October And May
ADDRESSED TO SAMUEL JAMES ARNOLD, Esq.
: 'Behold, with mild and matron mien,
'With sober eye, and brow serene,
'October sweep along;
'Bright are her groves with vivid dyes,
'Refulgent beam her cloudless skies,
'And sweet her red-breast's song.
'Her temper bland, no passions sway,
'The same to-morrow as to-day,
'Her tints so soft, so warm,
'That Painting, with enraptur'd view,
'Hangs o'er each variegated hue,
'And copies every charm.
'Then let the Muse's thrilling lyre
'To Painting join its silver wire,
'And hail October's fame;
'Nor let that peevish vixen May,
'Whose frowns and tears deform the day,
'Her notes for ever claim.'
Why, faith! there's truth in what you say:
Yet poets love the young and gay;—
Though fickle May is teasing,
Though frowns and tears obscure her smiles,
In spite of all her pouting wiles
The little vixen's pleasing.
Then when she smiles, she smiles so sweet,
Such colours and such perfumes meet,
Such health is in her hue;
Such odours from her bosom breathe,
That poets give to her the wreath,
Who smell, as well as view.
Besides, you painters have the art,
Charms artificial to impart,
And make the wrinkle sleek.
Though red the blushing hawthorn shine,
To me it looks like deep carmine
Upon a faded cheek.
See how the hawthorn snowy blooms;
Its scent the passing gale perfumes:
Mark how the lilac blows—
Profuse while Flora o'er the meads,
Where'er the laughing goddess treads,
Her fragrant burden throws.
'But Spring's gay landscape shows too bright
'Masses of vegetable white,
'And light unvaried green;'—
Can then the artist's partial eye
No charm in Nature's works descry,
Unless he paint the scene?
The rugged brow, the form uncouth,
Will more than beauty or than youth
The painter's skill engage;
But will from youth and beauty's charms
The painter fly, and in his arms
Clasp ugliness and age?
Light ills, whence comic laughter flows,
And tragedy's severer woes,
Are favourites of the Muse;
But days replete with ease and joy,
Unting'd by aught of pain's alloy,
In real life we choose.
Say, can the robin's plaintive note
Mate Philomela's warbling throat
Which nightly charms the grove;
Or full and sweet, the feather'd throng,
Who loudly chant the matin song
Of ecstacy and love?
And bounding see in sportive dance,
Frolic the summer months advance,
Led on by youthful May;
While on October's solemn state
The hours of dreary winter wait,
The heralds of decay.
The frowning brow, the tearful eye
Of blooming May shall swiftly fly,
And every cloud be past;
While on October's richest hue
Doubtful we throw an anxious view,
And fear each smile her last.
But you, my friend, whose gifted mind,
In friendly union fondly join'd,
The sister arts inspire;
Who know alike with skilful hand
The glowing pencil to command,
And strike the sacred lyre,
Will now mild Autumn's various dyes,
His mellow tints, and purple skies,
With plastic hand pourtray;
Now taste the fragrant breath of Spring,
Her sylvan chorus join, and sing
The ambrosial sweets of May.
Ode To Beauty
Enchanting power! whose influence blest
O'er Nature reigns with pleasing sway,
Whose mild command each gentler breast
Enraptur'd glories to obey:
O give my ravish'd sense to trace
In every form thy polish'd grace,
Whether thy footsteps deign to tread
The level of the enamel'd mead,
Whether thou joy'st to haunt the dale,
Or drink the mountain's ambient gale,
Or, with a more ambitious aim,
To animate the human frame,
Bid the bright eye resistless charm,
The snowy bosom swell, or shape the ivory arm.
When at the Eternal's dread command
From Chaos rose this fabric fair,
He bade thy ornamenting hand
O'er all creation spread it's care.
By thee was Earth's maternal breast
Involv'd in verdure's radiant vest,
Heaven's spacious arch thy tints embue
With the deep azure's dazzling hue,
O'er the bleak hill thy order bade
The forest spread luxuriant shade,
Thy fingers through the irriguous mead
The river's shining current lead
Till it's increasing waters gain
The unconfin'd expanse of Ocean's vast domain.
Glows not a shrub with vivid bloom
Mid the recesses of the vale;
Sheds not a flower it's rich perfume
To scent the pinions of the gale;
Waves not a beech it's leafy bough
To shade the mountain's hoary brow;
Bends not an osier dank to lave
It's branches in the passing wave.
Down the rude cliff's tremendous side
Pours not a stream it's whitening tide,
Nor arch'd by silver poplars, cool
Spreads it's smooth breast the lucid pool,
But every Muse shall read thy care,
Shall trace thy vagrant step, and mark thy pencil there.
But in the lovely Virgin's eye
And polish'd form, and blooming face,
Thy fairest lustre we descry,
And gaze upon thy purest grace.
Ah say! can all the mingled flowers
Whose roseate leaves, the circling hours
On earth's green bosom lavish fling,
When genial Zephyr breathes the spring,
Please like the maid whose charms inspire
The glowing wish of young desire?
Though blush with varied dyes the trees,
Though sweets ambrosial load the breeze,
Flies every bloom, fades every green,
Till female Beauty deign to crown the enchanting scene.
Beneath the spicy forest's shade
The Indian breathes his amorous vow,
Where ice eternal binds the glade
Thy power the frozen Zemblians know;
For there thy beam with heavenly light
Has chear'd the gloom of polar night.
Where to the Eunuch's servile care
Luxury commits the imprison'd fair,
There o'er the desolated plains
Stern Slavery unresisted reigns,
But where Love's gentle rights are known
Which mutual freedom gives alone,
There Courage dwells, ingenuous Shame,
And Virtue's holy meed, and Glory's ardent flame.
But though the smiling Landscape spread
It's richest views on every side,
Though waves each oak it's solemn head
In all the pomp of leafy pride:
What pleasure shall these scenes impart,
How soothe to rest the laboring heart,
If malice fell, or black despair,
Or keen remorse inhabit there?
And say can all the charms that lie
In Hebe's cheek, or Helen's eye,
Delight, if scorn, or cold disdain,
Or changes desultory reign,
Or Jealousy's tormenting sway,
Usurp the power of Love, or cloud his golden ray.
'Tis in the conscious mind alone
That Beauty shews her purest beam,
There stands secure her lasting throne
Not idly borne on Fancy's stream:
Though the rude blast, and wintry storm,
The blooming Landscape's charms deform,
Though withering time, or pale disease,
Bid the wan cheek no longer please,
Yet if within the feeling breast
Soft pity dwell a welcome guest,
If smiling Peace, and Meekness sweet,
And Constancy there fix their seat;
Then shall thy charms despise the rage
Of winter's dreary frown, and mock the force of age.
The Tenth Olympic Ode Of Pindar
O Muse, awake the Olympic Lay,
Which to Archestratus' brave Son we owe;
The meed I promis'd to bestow,
Oblivion's icy hand had wip'd away:
And thou, O Truth, the favorite Maid
Of thundering Jove, vouchsafe thy aid
To quell their slanderous falshoods, who pretend
I e'er with wilful aim deceiv'd a trusting Friend.
Full many an hour has roll'd away
Since shame has made my cheeks with crimson glow,
So long the promis'd meed to owe:
But now the song, with interest, I'll repay;
And, as where Ocean's billows roar,
They clear from stain the pebbled shore,
So shall the breath of this my friendly strain,
To listening crouds assert my spotless faith again.
Where, gently fann'd by Zephyr's balmy breeze,
Fair Truth o'er Locris' colony presides;
Her Guardian, sweet Calliope, she sees,
While warlike Mars the generous care divides.—
Bold Cycnus, in the hard-fought field,
Forced Hercules at first to yield;
Agesidamus, so thy might
Was wavering in the Olympic fight,
Till, as Achilles' friendly tongue
Patroclus' fainting limbs new strung;
Brave Ilas' words thy drooping spirits fire,
Thy slumbering virtues rouse, and god-like deeds inspire.
When Emulation warms the breast,
The Youth (Heaven aiding) matchless Fame shall gain;
But few the envied Prize obtain
By slothful luxury and lazy rest.
Now custom bids my Muse proclaim
Jove's Festival and solemn Game,
With which Alcides honor'd Pelops' Shrine,
When Neptune's baffled sons confess'd his power divine.
When his triumphant arm had laid,
O blameless Cteatus! thy glory low;
And bold Eurytas felt the blow,
O'ercome by stratagem in Cleon's glade;
From proud Augeas to obtain
The promis'd meed of toil and pain;
And wreak on Molion's sons the fatal day,
When stretch'd on Elis' plains his slaughter'd army lay.
Soon did the faithless King his fraud repay,
He saw his country's fairest hopes expire;
Saw his exulting cities fall a prey
To vengeful slaughter, and consuming fire;
Saw desolation's iron reign
Extend o'er all his fair domain—
Vain are the endeavours to withstand
The vengeance of a mightier hand;
Awhile he rashly tried to oppose
The forceful entry of his shouting foes;
Till, seeing fell destruction round him wait,
He sought amid the press, a voluntary fate.
On Pisa's plains the son of Jove
Assembled, with their spoils, his conquering band;
And bade for ever sacred stand
To his eternal Sire this hallow'd grove:
Bade sacred fences straight surround
The Altis' consecrated ground;
Whilst round, the festive seats with splendor gleam,
And crown the verdant brink of Alpheus' honored stream.
Alpheus, who, with the imperial train
Of high Olympus, shares the sacrifice;
Where the Saturnian summits rise,
With site conspicuous from the trophied plain:—
There, erst when Oenomaus sway'd,
In snow was wrapp'd the unnoticed glade.
On the first rites propitious smil'd the Fates;
And Time, on whom even Truth for confirmation waits:
He, rolling on with never-ceasing course,
To the succeeding race of men declares,
How the rich spoils of war's resistless force,
The godlike Hero 'midst his army shares;
And bids the festive games still chear
Again each fifth revolving year.—
Who in the contests, now ordain'd,
The first Olympic wreath obtain'd?
Whose coursers in the rattling car,
Or limbs exerted in the sportive war,
Or feet inur'd to urge the rapid race,
Snatch'd from their baffled foes the matchless olive's grace?
On the long Stadium's even course,
Oeonus, great Licymnius' valiant son,
The Prize with active footsteps won,
Who brought from Midia's plains his friendly force:
Resplendent with the wrestler's oil,
Fair Victory crown'd the Tegean's toil:
While brave Doryclus, from Tirynthe's shore,
The Cæstus' manly prize from all his rivals bore.
Conspicuous on his conquering car,
The Muse Mantinian Semus' Coursers sings;
Phrastor the unerring javelin flings;
While, by Eniceus' sinews hurl'd, afar
Beyond the rest the Discus flies.—
Resound the shores with friendly cries;
While lovely Luna pours her argent light
Full-orb'd, and chears with rays the gloomy shades of night.
The echoing woods, and vaulted temples round,
Ring with the jocund shouts, and festive strain.
Following their great example, we resound
Their glories who the Olympic Olive gain:
And in the far-resounding verse
The manly Victor's praise rehearse,
And tune the Hymn to awful Jove;
Who, 'mid the sapphire plains above,
Bids the bright-gleaming lightning fly,
And darts the thunder thro' the trembling sky.
Breath'd to soft flutes sweet sounds the lingering lay,
Which, form'd on Dirce's brink, though long deferr'd, we pay.
As grateful comes the long-hop'd air;
As to the expecting sire whom age and pain
To second childhood bend again,
The happy offspring of a legal heir:
The joyful tidings straight impart
New vigor to his sinking heart;
For wealth itself the dying breast offends,
When to a stranger's hand the envied gift descends.
So he who at dread Pluto's gate
Arrives unsung;—though worth and fair renown
His every word and action crown,
What shining honor shall that worth await?
Thy ears, the lyre, and dulcet flute,
Agesidamus! shall salute;
O'er thy fair fame distil mellifluous lays,
And all Pieria's Choir afford thee ample praise.
And on his country too we must bestow
The faithful tribute of a votive verse;
On Locris' race the honied stream shall flow,
While their victorious son my lays rehearse;
Whom, by Olympia's awful shrine,
My eyes beheld, with strength divine,
In the stern conflict bear away
The envied trohpies of the day.
Lovely his form, while youth's soft grace
Shed smiling beauty o'er his face;
Youth's bloom divine, which, join'd to potent Love,
The ruthless arm of Death from Ganymedes drove.
Beauty. Part I.
A POETICAL ESSAY.
The various powers by Nature's hand combin'd
To fill with harmony the raptur'd mind;
Whose forms, as diff'rent lustre they impart,
Or strike the senses, or exalt the heart,
My daring Muse unfolds;—resolv'd to trace
The glorious theme thro' ev'ry path of space;
Till borne aloft on Truth's triumphant wings
Boldly she rise, and soaring as she sings,
By Fancy urg'd, she shape her vent'rous flight
To those blest regions of supreme delight,
Where Beauty pours her noblest, brightest ray,
Amidst the mansions of eternal day.
Daughters of Albion; ye whose eyes dispense
The mildest beams of virgin innocence,
Whose charms by all the Graces are design'd,
Each the fair emblem of a fairer mind,
To you I dedicate this votive lay:—
With kind applause the pleasing labour pay:
Crown with your myrtle wreaths my artless lyre,
Nor scorn the numbers which yourselves inspire:
So shall my Muse the Poet's bay disclaim,
And prize your smiles, beyond the breath of Fame.
Come, sacred Nature! Nymph divinely bright!
Unfold thy prospects to my eager sight,
O'er flow'ry lawns, with thee, O, let me rove,
And tread the devious lab'rinth of the grove.
Come in the garb of simple grandeur dress'd,
And by thy precepts form my docile breast;
Clear ev'ry mist, and give my eyes to see,
That Beauty only is deriv'd from thee.
Teach me that ev'ry art in ev'ry age
Is but a transcript from thy perfect page,
Where imitation ever charms us most,
And the best model, is the noblest boast.
When the discerning sons of Greece and Rome
Bent the proud arch, and swell'd the stately dome,
E'er gothic structures idly pleas'd the heart,
With all the nice perplexities of art,
The glorious architects rever'd thy name,
And following Nature, found the road to fame.
While Gallic artists proud to shine alone
Amidst a new creation of their own,
Boast too refin'd a taste to suffer thee
To guide a riv'let, or to rear a tree;
But art, expence, and labour have combin'd,
To draw th' attention of the trifling mind,
That senseless crowds may view with ideot stare,
The watry column, and the spruce parterre.
Yet tho' Le Notre bade on ev'ry side
The dazzling garden spread its flow'ry pride,
While the unvaried lawn, and vista'd shade,
In lines, and squares were regularly laid;
Tho' proud Versailles, thro' marble fountains, play
Her tortur'd waters to the face of day,
Such scenes, which only charm us by surprize,
O! may I never view, but to despise:
My wand'ring footsteps rather deign to lead
Thro' the dark forest, or th' enamel'd mead;
Where winding streams divide the verdant vale,
And artless music floats in ev'ry gale.
Ye Nymphs of Pindus! who have still possess'd
From earliest infancy my raptur'd breast,
And thou, celestial Fancy, matchless maid!
Descend propitious to your vot'ry's aid,
Bear me to happier regions far away,
From whence Hyperion darts his ev'ning ray,
Where Beauty's native form was ne'er defac'd
By servile ignorance, and barb'rous taste,
But thro' luxuriant fields, and fragrant groves,
In innocence the peaceful savage roves:
Where lofty mountains lift their piny heads,
Where its green lap the vast savannah spreads,
Or where the congregated waters sweep
With foaming lapse, down Niagara's steep,
Can all the pride of tasteless artists vie
With objects vast as these!—in Reason's eye?
Where Beauty dwells amidst the spacious plains,
Dress'd in her richest pomp, for Nature reigns.
But say, to scenes of humbler grace unknown,
Dwells Beauty with magnificence alone?
And from Britannia's pleasing prospects hurl'd,
Deigns she alone to bless the western world?
Not so,—her lovely form is here display'd
In ev'ry leaf that forms the summer shade,
And ev'ry blooming flower, that paints the vernal glade.
Who stretch'd upon the green hill's breezy brow
Can see the various landscape spread below,
The village spire—the wreathing smoke ascend,
The forest wave, the thymy downs extend,
The shining river roll its silver stream
Thro' woods, impervious to the solar beam,
Or 'midst the meads in smooth mæanders glide,
While bending oziers stoop to kiss the tide,
Till in th' horizon faintly ting'd with blue,
The distant mountains close the pleasing view,
And not in ev'ry tint of Nature's hand,
See Beauty's form, and own her mild command?
When from the East the glorious orb of day
Pours on the burnish'd cliff a golden ray,
While pearly dew-drops, sprinkled by the morn,
Shine in the turf, or glitter on the thorn;
When splendid in meridian light array'd,
His piercing beams the woodland gloom pervade,
When wrap'd in misty ev'ning's silent reign,
Th' encreasing darkness steals across the plain,
Or when in virgin state, the Delian Queen
Drives her bright chariot thro' the blue serene,
While scatter'd round in fair confusion lie
The inferior glories of the vaulted sky:
When gently o'er the flower-empurpled vale,
The vernal zephyrs breathe a genial gale,
When as fierce summers sultry rays descend,
With blushing fruit the loaded branches bend,
When autumn crowns the hills with waving corn,
And pours profusion from his twisted horn,
While deep'ning shade on shade, the woods are seen
From the full crimson, to the faded green:
Or when the trees their leafy honours yield,
And chearless russet clads the dreary field;
When the cascade by wintry fetters tied,
Must cease to murmur, and the stream to glide;
While blows the storm, or falls the delug'd rain,
Or fleecy snows o'erspread the whiten'd plain,
And Nature, tho' her meanest garb she wears,
Majestic ev'n in misery appears.
In ev'ry season, ev'ry hour, I trace
Imperial Beauty! thy transcendent grace;
Behold each scene thy lovely form display,
And wond'ring, own thy universal sway.
Blest is the youth! on whose high-favour'd head
The sacred Nine their happy influence shed;
Inspir'd by them, his raptur'd eyes explore
The choicest objects of thy charming store.
For him their strains the sylvan warblers breathe,
For him fair Maia twines her flow'ry wreath,
Fragrant for him the morning breezes blow,
The poplar trembles, and the fountains flow,
Each charm of Nature strongly strikes his breast,
And Beauty shines supreme, by young ey'd Fancy dress'd.
Beauty. Part Ii
Of all that Nature's rural prospects yield,
The chrystal fountain and the flow'ry field,
Enough, my Muse!—the force of Beauty trace
Now in each feature of the female face,
For there she boasts superior powers, that move
The melting soul to extasy and love.
O! whisper to my heart, Aonia's choir,
Harmonious numbers, and seraphic fire!
Resistless Queen of Paphos, aid my strain,
With all the Loves and Graces in thy train.
Ye sportive Nymphs, and laughing Pleasures join,
Adorn each thought, and polish ev'ry line.
With such assistance shall my song rehearse
The fairest subject in the sweetest verse.
Britannia! happy land! thy sea-girt coast
The tend'rest ornament of love can boast:
From other regions exil'd, here alone
Fair Delicacy rears her sacred throne:
Honor and Modesty her lineage claim,
Her nurse was Decency, her tutor Fame,
Desire attends where'er her footsteps move,
Unalter'd bliss, and never-fading love.
O! keep her rules for ever in your view,
Ye Nymphs of Albion, for I sing to you:
Tho' your bright charms can kindle fiercer flames
Than those of fam'd Circassia's lovely dames,
With stedfast course pursue her perfect plan,
Whose dictates please us more than Beauty can.
Let Gallia's sunburn'd maids their cheeks incrust
With the false varnish of a crimson dust;
On artificial locks, which tow'ring rise
A monstrous pile, and seem to threat the skies,
Let them, with taste capricious, powder spread,
To ape the honours of a hoary head:
So Caledonia's fir-crown'd hills appear,
When big with snow descends th' inclement year:
Let them, each soft endearment laid apart,
With open impudence attack the heart:
Form'd as you are each Beauty to display,
And mock the painter's tint, and poet's lay,
Ne'er may this modest ornament be lost,
Your first perfection, and your fairest boast,
Which can your eyes with force resistless arm,
Point ev'ry glance, and double ev'ry charm.
Ne'er may your skill such foreign arts employ,
To raise that passion which they must destroy:
Still let your skins, with native lustre, shew
The white rose, blended with its blushing foe;
Still let your hair, with unaffected grace,
In glossy ringlets decorate your face:
With powers like these can pomp and splendor vie,
The sparkling di'mond, or the Tyrian dye:
When youth and beauty deck the blooming maid,
The purple sickens, and the di'monds fade.
Adorn'd with charms that ev'ry art despise,
Victorious Love exults, and triumphs in her eyes.
Not all the blossoms Nature's fingers fling
O'er the gay plains, when Zephyr breathes the spring,
Please like the Nymph, whose winning smiles inspire
Love's gentle flame, and kindle warm desire;
Pale is each flower, and faded ev'ry green,
If female Beauty heighten not the scene.
When newly form'd, and plac'd in Eden's shade,
Our waking Sire the blushing fields survey'd,
Awhile he view'd the land with fond delight,
Awhile the fair creation charm'd his sight;
But soon the pleasing novelty was o'er,
And soon the fair creation charm'd no more:
Heaven saw the dull stagnation of his breast,
And, pitying, sent him Eve, to make him blest;
With her, distress he rather wish'd to share,
To live by toil, and taste the bread of care,
Than with his careless limbs on roses thrown,
To prove the joys of Paradise alone:
With her thro' dreary wastes he chose to go,
Friend to her grief, and partner of her woe:
Chear'd by the flame of love, the desart smil'd,
And more than Eden bloom'd upon the wild.
May the curs'd wretch! from female charms who roves
To monstrous pleasures, and unseemly loves;
Who from kind Nature's lucid fountain flies
To the polluted pools of guilty joys,
Far from the social haunts of man be driv'n,
And left to conscience, and avenging Heaven.
But hail! ye favour'd train! supremely blest
With the rich treasure of a feeling breast,
Who fir'd by transports, exquisitely fine,
Submissive kneel at Beauty's brightest shrine,
Whether the sprightly virgin claim your care,
Or arm'd with majesty, the haughtier fair,
Or the sweet nymph, whose melting eyes proclaim
Her bosom, form'd for Love's imperial flame,
Where as we gaze, the torch of young Desire
Lights in our breasts a sympathetic fire:
Hail, happy train! form'd only to receive
The fairest joys the hand of Heaven can give,
Joys, which alone th' exalted soul can prove,
The burning extasies of mutual love.
Far from your paths be hate, and fell disdain,
Pale jealousy, and sorrow's weeping train:
To crown your hours, may love with friendship join,
And smiling peace her roseate garlands twine,
And every golden moment take its flight,
Wing'd with soft ease, and pregnant with delight,
Till time proclaims their destin'd period run,
And death concludes the bliss which love begun.
Ye stoic tribe, who o'er the mind preside
With useless sway, and impotence of pride:
Who form your empty rules, with childish art,
To force each gen'rous passion from the heart,
With eager zeal your air-built schemes pursue,
And talk of feelings which ye never knew:
So may the wretch of lights and colours dream,
Whose eye-balls never drank the solar beam;
Love shall superior to your efforts rise,
Elude your labours, and your toils despise:
Love, whose fierce rays in every climate shine,
The Arctic Circle, or the scorching Line:
Inspir'd by Love, beneath the spicy shade,
The am'rous Indian wooes the sable maid:
Love's sacred power the frozen Zemblians know
'Midst icy rocks, and mountains form'd of snow,
For there his glowing beam with genial light
Has pierc'd the gloom, and chear'd the polar night.
Where eastern luxury (those joys unknown
Which spring from mutual liberty alone,)
Commits, relentless, to the Eunuch's care,
With barb'rous dignity, th' imprison'd fair,
O'er the deserted shores and barren plains,
Pale Tyranny in all her horrors reigns;
No dauntless Patriots there the Despot awe,
His will is reason, and his sentence law:
While the mean slaves, a cruel, coward train,
Bow to the rod, and kiss the galling chain:
But where, with gentle sway, Love's friendly hand
Has stretch'd its influence o'er a happy land,
There in the shade of each inspiring grove,
By science led, the warbling Muses rove;
There all the gen'rous passions fix their seat,
And ev'ry bosom burns with patriot heat,
There manly courage dwells, ingenuous shame,
And Virtue's conscious worth, and Freedom's glorious flame.
The Thirteenth Olympic Ode Of Pindar
Whilst I rehearse the illustrious House's Praise,
Thrice Victor in Olympia's sportive war,
To friends and strangers open; let my lays
The fame of happy Corinth bear afar:
Which as a gate to Neptune's Isthmus stands,
Proud of her blooming youth and manly bands;
There, fair Eunomia, with her sister train
Blest Peace and Justice, hold their steady reign;
Who wealth and smiling ease on mortals shower,
From Themis' genial care drawing their natal hour.
But bloated insolence and fell disdain
Far from their peaceful seats they drive away.
Now lovely deeds inspire my sounding strain,
And honest boldness swells my rising lay;
When native worth the generous bosoms feel,
'Tis hard the shining virtues to conceal.
Corinth, on thee the blooming hours bestow
The envied wreaths from manly deeds that flow,
And teach thy dædal sons with careful heart,
First to explore the way of many a useful art.
Who bade the bullock sacred bleed
To Bacchus in the Dithyrambic Rite?
Who first with reins the generous steed
Directed in his rapid flight?
And bade the sculptur'd bird of Jove
The temple's massy roofs above,
For ever fix'd on either end,
His ornamental wings extend?
While the sweet Muse her silver sounds inspires,
And Mars with glorious flame the warriors bosom fires.
Olympia's honor'd Patron! potent Jove!
Whose sovereign mandates o'er the world extend,
O with propitious ear my strain approve,
And, to fair Corinth's virtuous sons a friend,
On Xenophon let gales propitious breathe,
And take with hand benign the victor wreath
He won: surpassing, when on Pisa's shore,
What mortal valor had perform'd before;
The Stadic Course re-echo'd his renown,
And with knit limbs he gain'd the Pentathletic Crown.
And twice conspicuous on the trophied Course
The Isthmian Parsley graced his Victor brow;
Nor Nemea's Cirque contemn'd the Hero's Force.—
And where the sacred waves of Alpheus flow
His father Thessalus the Olive wore
By swiftness gain'd, and since on Pythia's shore,
One sun beheld his might, 'mid wondering eyes
Obtain the Stadic, and Diaulic Prize;
And the same month, to grace his lovely brow,
The third triumphal Wreath did Attica bestow.
Seven times Hellotia crown'd his force,
And since on Isthmus sea-encircled plain,
Victors in Neptune's sacred course,
He and his Sire the Prize obtain.
The swelling joy, the sounding song,
Still follow as they go along;
What wreaths! what honors! too, they bore
From Pythia's, and from Nemea's shore!—
He who recounts their various crowns, as well
May number all the sands where ocean's billows swell.
Some medium though will every praise beseem,—
Which 'tis the first of wisdom still to know.—
While, with no alien voice, the much-lov'd theme
The fame of Corinth from my lips shall flow;
And I her Chiefs, and prudent Sires rehearse,
No sounds fallacious shall disgrace my verse:
There Sisyphus arose, whose wiles could shine
With matchless force and lustre near divine;
Medea there, whom Venus' flames inspire
The Grecian ship to save, and cheat her cruel sire.
When warr'd the Greeks on Phrygia's hostile strand,
On either side her sons embattled stood,
Though to bear Helen from the ill-fated land;
Her warriors with the Atridæ cross'd the flood;
Yet some, who those with vengeful spears repell'd
From Corinth's race their honor'd lineage held,
For Lycian Glaucus to the Achaian host
Trembling before his lance, would often boast
His sire's abode, and wealth, and wide domain,
Where fair Pirene's waves enrich the fertile plain.
Who by the silver fountain's side
Much labor found, and much affliction knew,
While winged Pegasus he tried
Medusa's offspring to subdue;
Till, sleeping on his native plains,
Minerva gave the golden reins;
‘Awake, Æolian King! awake!
‘This sacred gift with transport take;
‘Shew it to Neptune, potent God of steeds,
‘While at his hallow'd Shrine the votive bullock bleeds.’
The Ægis-bearing Maid Minerva spoke,
While midnight slumbers clos'd his heavy eyes;
Straight from the dull embrace of sleep he broke,
And seiz'd with eager hand the glittering prize:
Cæranus' son he sought, the neighbouring Seer,
And pour'd the wond'rous tidings in his ear;
That, as in awful Pallas' holy Fane,
Sleep o'er his temples spread her leaden reign,
Before him stood confess'd the warlike Maid,
And by his side at once the golden bridle laid.
The wondering Augur bade him straight obey
Each mystic mandate of the dream divine;
To Neptune first the votive bullock pay,
Then to equestrian Pallas rear a shrine:
Beyond his hopes the Gods with savoring will
The object of his wishes soon fulfil;
For brave Bellerophon, with joyful look,
The sacred present of the Immortals took;
Threw it with ease about his arching head,
And peaceful in his hand the ethereal courser led.
Now, shining in refulgent arms,
The winged Pegasus his limbs bestrode;
And, seeking war's severe alarms,
To Amazonia's plains he rode;
And, 'midst the chilling reign of frost,
O'ercame the Female Archer-Host.
His arms Chimæra's flames subdue;
The dauntless Solymi he slew.—
I pass the death his cruel fate decreed,
When Jove's eternal stalls receiv'd the immortal Steed.
While thus the shafts of harmony I throw,
Let me not aim too wide with erring hand;
The Muses now command the strain to flow
To Olygæthidæ's triumphant band;
Recount the early praise and young renown,
On Isthmus' and on Nemea's Cirque they won;
In verse concise stupendous deeds display,
And with an oath confirm the wonderous lay;
On either course alike their skill was fam'd,
For sixty Victor Wreaths the Herald's voice proclaim'd.
How oft their brows the Olympic Olive graced,
To Fame already have my numbers given;
What future crowns shall on their heads be placed,
Though we may hope, is only known to Heaven:
Yet if new strifes their genius bids them prove,
We trust the event to Mars, and mighty Jove.
Oft from Parnassus' heights the meed they bore
And Argos' fields, and Thebes' resounding shore;
And in Lycæan Jove's imperial Fane
Recorded stand their toils on fair Arcadia's plain.
Pellene's fields, and Sycion's coast;
Megara, and the Æacides' domain;
Eleusis's cirque, and, Freedom's boast,
Fair Marathon's triumphant plain;
Proud Ætna, and Eubœa green,
Have their victorious trophies seen.
Through Grecia's realms their large amount
Of wreaths, in vain the Muse would count.—
Assist, immortal Jove! my soaring lays,
And crown with honor'd ease my calm-revolving days.
Beauty. Part Iii.
Ye pleasing visions, and fantastic dreams,
Of hallow'd mountains, of poetic streams,
And shades for ever sacred to the song
Of Græcian Phœbus, and the Thespian throng,
O! melt into the winds, nor longer spread
Your sweet delusions round my raptur'd head:
But thou, celestial Truth, my prayer attend,
And be my Muse, my Guardian, and my Friend:
While I from Fancy's fairy realms depart,
To search the nobler regions of the heart,
Deign, heavenly Guide, my numbers to inspire,
And wake to bolder strains the breathing lyre.
The flow'ry landscape, and the blooming fair,
Bright as they are, no more demand my care,
Direct my eyes from Nature's pleasing roll,
To read the moral Beauty of the soul,
To trace her form by matter unconfin'd,
Thro' each divine perfection of the mind,
And there behold her sovereign hand dispense,
The powers of bliss to each attending sense.
Say, if we roam where all the Graces lead,
Thro' the cool thicket, or th' enamel'd mead?
Tho' Nature in her vernal pride appear,
Or laughing Summer deck the purple year,
What scenes of pleasure can the bosom share
Deform'd by passion, or disturb'd by care?
Or what delightful hopes does love impart,
When jaundic'd jealousy infects the heart?
'Tis in the mind that Beauty stands confess'd,
In all the noblest pride of glory dress'd,
Where virtue's rules the conscious bosom arm,
There to our eyes she spreads her brightest charm:
There all her rays, with force collected, shine,
Proclaim her worth, and speak her race divine.
Ye sages, who creation's depth explore,
And hang incessant o'er the pleasing lore,
Who view the earth, in stated periods, run
Her course mysterious round the central sun,
Who view five diff'rent orbs direct their flight
Round the same chearing fount of heat and light;
Who rushing forward, urg'd by force divine,
See distant suns on distant systems shine,
Till all the wisdom reas'ning man can boast,
Amidst the boundless fields of space is lost.
Vast as it is! does this stupendous whole
With half that wonder strike th' astonish'd soul?
With half that veneration fill the mind?
As those brave chiefs, the patrons of mankind,
Who mov'd by pity for the public weal,
Despis'd the tyrant's axe, the bigot's wheel,
Repell'd the cruel force of factious hate,
Or bravely fell, to save a sinking state?
Ye warrior kings! Ambition's fav'rite train,
Who hunt false glory thro' th' embattled plain;
Tho' varnish'd speciously your martial rage
Beams forth too brightly from th' historian's page,
Tho' lays divine record each impious name,
And worlds misjudging, call th' oppression, fame;
The honest man, from power at distance plac'd,
By freedom guarded, and by virtue grac'd,
More true rewards from reason's hand shall find,
Than ye, the storms and earthquakes of mankind.
Tho' half the globe, by error drawn aside,
Scorn modest merit, while they kneel to pride;
Fair reason dares assert the fair pretence
To endless fame, of peaceful innocence,
Will snatch the wreath from proud ambition's sword,
And honor Shenstone more than Prussia's Lord.
So when some torrent, swell'd by hasty rains,
Rolls from the hills, and hides the neighb'ring plains,
The meads around one liquid mirror lie,
A glorious object to the stranger's eye,
But worthier praises to the stream belong,
Which winds its waves the humbler vales among,
Improves the fields that grace its sedgy sides,
And pours fair plenty where its current glides.
O! would the royal race but learn to know
From what blest source their future praise must flow,
Enroll'd with Titus in the lists of fame
Succeeding times should sanctify each name:
The smiles of freedom o'er a realm to spread,
To bid fair science lift her lovely head,
To strike dread terror thro' the guilty breast,
To raise the humble, and relieve th' oppress'd,
With lenient hand to stop the heart-felt sigh,
And wipe the tear from pale affliction's eye,
These! these are charms! to which compar'd the globe,
The crown, the scepter, and the purple robe,
The arm'd array, the courtier's idle state,
And all the low ambition of the great,
Meet with our childhood's toys an equal lot,
A moment's transport, and the next forgot.
Virtue alone, on active wings, shall rise
From earth's mean pomp, and seek her native skies:
She of superior lustre nobly proud,
Contemns the suffrage of the fickle croud,
Mocks envy's darts, and scandal's pois'nous breath,
Great, tho' defam'd, and conqu'ror, ev'n in death.
For freedom arm'd, on Chalgrave's fatal plain,
Lo! glorious Hampden number'd with the slain:
O! while with mournful sighs you view his tomb,
Own him more blest in that untimely doom,
Than impious Cromwell; tho' his stronger fate
Grac'd him with all the gorgeous pomp of state,
Who, base deserter of his country's cause,
Despis'd her senates, and revers'd her laws;
Chang'd regal power for arbitrary sway,
Fought to enslave, protected to betray,
And clos'd the horrid scene of social strife
With the sad off'ring of his sov'reign's life.
Thrice happy train! whom freedom leads afar,
To hurl on foreign foes the bolts of war:
Rancour to you shall ne'er impute the guilt
Of royal blood, in civil discord spilt,
But the victorious band shall justly claim
The wreath of glory, and immortal fame;
While on the youthful warrior's fatal bier
His sorrowing country pours the pensive tear:
Secure those chiefs of honor's lasting meed,
Who fight like Granby, or like Wolfe who bleed.
Are there so mean, who boast of worth that springs
From venal statesmen, and deluded kings?
Who without blushing own, their hands have sold
Their fame, their truth, their liberty for gold?
Who break each tye of public, private life,
For sounding titles, or a portion'd wife,
Proud on their breasts a glitt'ring mark to bear,
Which honor hates, and virtue scorns to wear:
Tho' the misdeeming vulgar's dazzled sight
Awhile may bless these meteors spurious light,
Short is their joy!—let fortune hide her head,
Such pride is tarnish'd, and such glory fled:
While that unfading worth, which builds alone
On Virtue's solid base, a lasting throne,
And, by no random censures kept in awe,
Is clear'd by Conscience, and by Virtue's law;
On fortune's smiles can look with coolness down,
Can bear, without a pang, her keenest frown:
The threats of want, of death, unmov'd can hear,
And fearing God, disclaim all other fear,
Shine forth alike, oppress'd, or grac'd by power,
In courts, in camps, in exile, or the tower.
Thus far, O Beauty! has my daring tongue,
In humble lays, thy various merits sung:
Still as the theme, impetuous I pursue,
The fleeting goal flies farther from my view;
Ev'n in the breast by virtue's dictates arm'd,
Thy light is sickly, and thy shape deform'd;
The stormy passions all their rage employ
To cloud that lustre which they can't destroy.
Then Wisdom, come! unfold thy mystic page,
Rich with the spoils of ev'ry clime, and age,
Thy aweful volume let my eyes explore,
Till vanquish'd Nature yield up all her store.
And thou, Morality, whose sacred art
By virtuous precepts forms the human heart,
Teach me whate'er experience yet has found,
In all its curious search, and ample round;
And shew my wav'ring mind a certain course
To trace bright Beauty to her perfect source.
In vain you try to solve the thorny maze,
And guide my feet thro' error's devious ways,
Lost and bewilder'd midst her paths I rove,
Uncertain how to turn, or where to move.
But from the regions of celestial day,
Behold! a form etherial wings her way!
Meek-eye'd Religion, hail!—for well I know
Thy mild demeanor, and thy placid brow.
'Tis thine alone the wand'ring thought to bring
To fair perfection's bright, unsully'd spring:
'Tis thine, with firm, tho' modest look, to gaze
Upon th' empyreal heav'n, and sapphire blaze.
But hold, my Muse! nor rashly thus aspire,
With verse so mean, to join th' angelic choir,
Who glorify in ceaseless strains above,
The First Great Cause of harmony and love:
The awful praises of whose hallow'd Name
No heart can image, and no tongue proclaim,
Enough for thee his glorious works to trace
In earth, and skies, and man's imperial race;
To view in ev'ry clime, and ev'ry hour,
Th' omnipotent, and omnipresent Power,
To see all Nature's charms derive their force
From this eternal, universal Source,
And in mysterious silence wrap'd, to own
That Beauty's perfect grace is found in Him alone.
The Parsonage Improved
Where gentle Deva's lucid waters glide
In slow meanders thro' the winding vale,
And fertile Cestria's pastures green divide;
Deep in the bosom of a sheltering dale
By uplands guarded from the wintry gale,
In rustic site a lowly village stands,
Not laid in form exact with artful scale,
But scatter'd wide by Chance's careless hands
'Mid woods, and breezy hills, and lawns, and fallow'd lands.
Here by the verdant margin of the flood
'Mid osiers dank the humble cottage lies,
And here emerging from the bowering wood
From chimnies low the curling steams arise,
Here on the heath adorn'd with purple dyes
The open casement drinks the ambrosial air,
While pointing boldly to the ambient skies,
The taper steeple marks the house of prayer,
Where to the holy rite the village race repair.
Here erst a simple fabric might you see,
The peaceful mansion of the Parish Priest:
Though unadorn'd with costly symmetry
No splendid portal woo'd the noble guest,
Yet from his lowly door the gentle breast
Was never by unfeeling menace driven,
While Charity in robe of ermine dress'd
Beheld her scanty offerings freely given;
Nor shall her smallest boon escape the eye of heaven.
Though proud Magnificence with splendid arm
Had here no vast superfluous pomp display'd,
Yet Neatness was at hand with simpler charm,
And each domestic comfort lent it's aid.
Though no extended lawns, no forest-shade
Struck with astonishment the enchanted sight,
Yet the small spot in Beauty stood array'd,
Since all around by Husbandry was dight,
For well such cultur'd scenes the placid sense delight.
Right to the golden sun's meridian ray
Healthful, and gay, the chearful front was placed:
Where no Acanthus twin'd with mimic spray
To crown the column of Corinthian taste;
By the soft tendrils of the vine embraced
O'er the slop'd roof the vivid shoots extend,
Now with festoons of leaves luxuriant graced,
And now, as Autumn's ripening beams descend,
Loaded with swelling fruit, the purple clusters bend.
A Garden trim was placed before the door
Kept by diurnal toil in neat array,
By walls defended from the insults frore
Of Boreas' blast, and Eurus' rude affray;
Against whose height leant many a tender spray,
Where the ripe fruits in blushing order glow,
Matur'd by genial Sol's reflected ray:
Nor did their sides unwelcome walk bestow
When though the sun be bright, right keen the winds might blow.
The gravel'd paths by rule exact design'd
In equal parts the cultur'd plot divide,
Where culinary plants of various kind
From every eye the thick espaliers hide,
Beneath, the border deck'd with Flora's pride
Exhibits to the view unnumber'd dyes,
Where in succession through each changing tide
Attentive art the varying plants supplies,
Still to enchant the smell, and fascinate the eyes.
Here venturing on the verge of Winter's power
The Snowdrop, Aconite, and Crocus grow,
The pallid Primrose hails the vernal hour,
And humbly sweet the azure Violets blow,
The Lilies of the vale their fragrance throw,
In meretricious pride the Tulip blooms,
Their gaudy pomp the rich Carnations show,
And, o'er the rest who regal power assumes,
The Rosier's fragrant bud the passing gale perfumes.
Nor did Pomona's treasure less abound
Alternate as the months their power display;
Here crept the fragrant Strawberry on the ground,
Or wav'd the Cherry on the loaded spray,
Here glow'd the Nectarine in the Summer ray,
Here swell'd the Peach all-tempting to the view,
Nor was the Gooseberry's meaner fruit away,
Or Currant red or rich in golden hue,
Or Pear with sugar'd juice, or Plum of glossy blue.
Nor will the Muse disdain with curious eye,
Beyond the thick espalier's verdant skreen,
Amid the vegetable tribes to pry
That spread their shoots the bordering paths between;
Salubrious viands for the board I ween!—
With various dainties was the ground o'erspread,
The Cabbage yellow, and the Colewort green,
The Asparagus that springs in lowly bed,
And Artichokes that rear aloft the spiny head.
The Bean whose perfume scents the ambient skies,
The twining Pea, the Turnip's juicy root,
The Celery that winter's blast defies,
The Radish warm, the Carrot's vigorous shoot,
The rich Potatoe fam'd Ierne's fruit
Sacred to Venus in the genial hour,
The Leek whose steams the hasty Cambrian suit,
With ample head the swelling Cauliflower,
And Lettuce friendly deem'd to Morpheus' drowsy power.
An Orchard too adjoin'd whose vernal hue
Might shame the costly shrubbery's proudest dyes,
Whose daisy'd sod delights the roving view,
And pasture to the gentle steed supplies;
While the bland influence of Autumnal skies
Ripen'd the ruddy fruit of general use,
Either to crown the board with luscious pies,
Or bid the goblet smile with mantling juice,
Bright as the generous wines that Southern climes produce.
Nor was there wanting ornamental care,
The Arbor, seat of Summer jollity,
Where Eglantines perfum'd the evening air,
And Woodbines sweet, and Jasmins fair to see;
Here sometimes from each scene of tumult free
Would Contemplation lift her eye divine,
And sometimes Mirth excite to social glee,
While bright with amber hue the beer would shine,
Or blush the crystal cup with Lusitania's wine.
Should vagrant Fancy tempt the foot to stray
Beyond the Garden's or the Orchard's bound,
Through green inclosures led the winding way
Which the live fence, and leafy hedge-row mound;
While gently gliding through the enamell'd ground
A silver stream with placid current flows,
Whose shelving bank with vivid alders crown'd
A site convenient to the Angler shews
While the delusive fly with skilful hand he throws.
Pleas'd and contented with his calm abode
The reverend Pastor liv'd in quiet state,
The path heaven mark'd he unrepining trod,
Lov'd by the Poor, respected by the Great:
The Harpy Envy, and the Fury Hate,
Far from his gentle flock he drove away,
Till bent at length by Time's increasing weight
His failing powers with gradual lapse decay,
Secure in happier climes to bloom again for aye.
From those fair seats by Isis' sedgy side
Where Rhedecyna rears her hundred spires,
His holy Successor is soon supplied.
His beating bosom swells with new desires;
For by the blest attainment he acquires
A right from monkish cloisters to remove,
Light a pure flame at Wedlock's sacred fires,
And all the scenes of untried rapture prove,
Which crown the mystic couch of Hymeneal Love.
With eager haste he seeks his new abode,
Keen Hope anticipating each delight;
But o'er the little Empire as he strode
It's vulgar Beauties fade upon his sight,
For forms of elegance had charm'd his sprite.
The alley trim offends his nicer taste,
And each compartment rang'd in angles right,
Nor can he see by Husbandry debas'd
Nature's imperial mien with simple Beauty graced.
Much in his mind he bore each lovely seat
That fair Oxonia's neighbouring plains display,
How would his raptur'd heart with transports beat
Through shady Ditchley's spreading groves to stray,
Or as on Nuneham's breezy heights he lay
To view the bending stream of Isis flow
Through meadows rich in all the pride of May,
Or pace the polish'd scenes of princely Stowe,
Or fill his sated eye on Blenheim's towery brow.
Nor need he wander from the Muses shade
To view improving taste's progressive power:
No more in knots by skill capricious laid
Does tonsile box sage Wickham's arms embower.—
Where pious Laud design'd the hallow'd tower
Throws Art her vesture with a chaster hand;
While, welcome refuge from the sultry hour!
By cooling gales with gentle pinions fann'd
Merton's delightful groves with gloomy foliage stand.
Here Ma'dlen too her splendid dome surveys,
Or venerable shade, in Cherwell's stream.—
O witching Memory assist my lays,
And steep my senses in thy soothing dream!
Here wandering oft by Cynthia's silver beam
My youthful Fancy woo'd the sacred Nine,
Or plied by midnight lamp the graver theme,
Or joy'd with Mirth's convivial sons to join,
Or paid the fervent vow at Friendship's holy shrine.
While thus the powers of Elegance unfold
Their Faery visions to his dazzled view,
With scorn his eyes the homely spot behold;—
Anxious the steps of Nature to pursue,
On humbler scale his eager thoughts renew
Whate'er the sons of genuine taste admire,
Whate'er the hands of Brown and Shenstone drew,
Or Wheatley's sober diction could inspire,
Or wak'd the sounding strings of Mason's heavenly Lyre.
Now the strong laborer with repeated blow
Each old incumbring ornament assails,
The guardian wall, it's sheltering height laid low
Admits the Fury of the eastern gales.—
Ah! what it's strength the buttress now avails
That safely kept the garden's flowery scene!—
Spreads the slight fence it's ineffectual rails
Painted by curious Art of dusky green,
Where oft the sportful lambs, destructive creep between.
The espaliers thick with blushing fruitage gay,
The flowing border stretch'd with careful line,
The vegetable viands, all give way,
And low their heads the orchard-trees recline;
While spread abroad with uniform design
The unvaried grass-plot dank extends around
Chequer'd with ragged clumps of sombre pine,
And sinks the deep Haha it's subtle mound,
That nothing from the plain the garden scene may bound.
Close by the border winds with tortur'd course
The gravel'd path it's undulating way,
Where evergreens that mock stern winter's force,
And flowering shrubs their different dyes display.
The Cypress dark, the Lilac's barren spray,
Succeed each useful plant's superior blow,
And as the owner's eyes the work survey
He sees with joy each fair improvement grow,
And deems his little reign a Blenheim or a Stowe.
Now issuing from the garden to the fields
As Taste capricious bares her active arm,
It's leafy shade the lofty Hedgerow yields,
And quits the lofty fence it's fragrant charm:
Nought can it's vernal sweets the stroke disarm,
Low on the earth it's blooming glory lies,
Where erst the pathway shelter'd lay and warm,
And o'er the scene the scatter'd clumps arise
No guard from wintry winds, no shade from sultry skies.
The brook that gently through the level meads
As Nature's hand directed us'd to wind,
Obedient follows now as Fashion leads
In curves is tortur'd, or in lakes confin'd;
While to the hands of Industry consign'd
No more the bending osiers kiss the tide,
Where oft the silent fisher lay reclin'd;
And from the force of Sol's meridian pride
The Naiad tries in vain her throbbing breast to hide.
The work compleated, now survey the scene
Rich in the dress of ornamental Taste,
Each useful plant of humbler homelier green
By barren elegance is now replaced,
While as if seated on the open waste
Unshelter'd, uninclos'd the house appears:
And by no Arts of Husbandry debas'd,
The frequent weed uncheck'd it's offspring rears,
And the rude common's garb the scanty paddock wears.
Wanting the Scythe that each returning dawn
Rank Vegetation's progress should correct,
Unsightly tufts deform the grassy lawn,
Nor can the corded fence the shrubs protect.
Oft will the Shepherd Boy his charge neglect
And crouding Flocks the rising clumps invade,
Oft 'mid the paths by care domestic deck'd
The steed's unseemly ordure will be laid,
And oft the swine obscene uproot the verdant glade.
And here perchance, bending his beetled brow,
Some angry Critic scornful shall exclaim:
‘What Gothic Wight is this, who dares avow
‘To scorn of British Arts the fairest name,
‘Who wishes to recall with Idiot aim
‘What Elegance has banish'd from our shore,
‘Would blast the rural wreath of Albion's fame
‘The ancient forms of Folly to restore,
‘And bid the spruce Parterre usurp her seats once more?’
Far be such blame! no Briton's eye can see
With greater joy the rural taste arise,
Spread wide in native pomp the untortur'd tree,
And the plain turf succeed the tulips dyes,
As Nature boon her simple charm supplies
Dress'd by the hand of Cultivation fair,
Where Art alone the curious eye descries
By shining every lawn with neater air,
The sod's more glossy green, the gardener's nicer care.
When Grandeur spreads around the extended park
Let lavish Nature plan the bold design,
The polish'd culture shall the boundary mark,
And graced, not cramp'd by Art, the Work shall shine:
No need the rule, the level, and the line,
Should 'midst the shades intrude with formal mien,
The splendid walk, the verdant carpet fine,
The contrast bright of variegated green,
Shall shew that artful care has form'd the extensive scene.
But when scant Fortune checks this flattering joy,
Nor gives to ornament the rural reign,
Why the trim Garden's lowlier charms destroy?—
Why Husbandry's more homely cares disdain?—
If Industry with her assiduous train
With step reluctant from the spot recedes,
What features shall distinguish Taste's domain
From the expanse of pastures, and of meads,
But Culture's looser robe, and more luxuriant weeds?
The Art Of War. Book I.
Illustrious Prince mark'd out by partial Fate
To bear the burthen, and the pomp of state,
To reign of spacious realms the future lord,
To lift the balance, and to wield the sword,
O hear a Soldier train'd to War's alarms,
Inur'd to danger, and grown old in arms,
With voice experienced shew the thorny road
Which leads through scenes of blood to Fame's abode.
Nor arms, nor steeds, nor numerous troops, alone
Sustain the honor of the monarch's throne;
Their use acquire, and every Art that leads
The Warrior's skilful arm to glorious deeds;
My Muse shall here the various portrait trace,
And point the virtues which the Hero grace;
His talents gain'd by toil, his mind serene,
His active courage, and his foresight keen,
Whose powers united in the Warrior's heart
O'erleap the bounded limits of his art.
Yet think me not, malignant bard, inclin'd
To sound pale Discord's clarion to mankind,
That dazzled by false Glory's dangerous fire
I seek Ambition's fury to inspire,
Or wish to see your savage vengeance, hurl'd
With frantic boldness o'er a ravag'd world;
O may my Hero boast the honest fame
That waits Aurelius', Titus', Trajan's name;
Then shine with noblest light triumphant kings,
When Virtue owns the crown that Valor brings,
Droops every trophy, withers every wreath,
That fell Injustice blasts with poisonous breath!
O lovely Peace! and thou thrice happy power,
Whose hands on Prussia's realm each blessing shower,
Far from our fields and tranquil seats, be driven
A Victor King, the heaviest scourge of Heaven!
Could my low voice reach Heaven's eternal throne,
Still should our fields thy blissful influence own,
Still should the labourer in our happy plains
Securely reap the produce of his pains,
And watchful Themis with impartial law
Protect the guiltless, and the vicious awe,
Our vessels give their canvas to the breeze,
And fear no dangers but from stormy feas,
And Pallas o'er our peaceful throne preside,
Her ægis guard us, and her wisdom guide;
But should some neighbouring power with causeless hate
Disturb our quiet, and invade the state,
Ye kings! ye people! rouse to War's alarms,
And Heaven shall aid their cause whom Justice arms.
Fierce God of War! to thee I tune the lay,
Direct my steps, and point the arduous way,
And you, Aonian maids, assist my choice,
To gentle accents melt my rougher voice,
Temper with softer strains my warlike fire,
And tune my trumpet to your peaceful lyre!
My daring mind would paths unusual trace,
And on Parnassus' heights Victoria place,
While on the forehead of the Delian god,
Shall gleam the helmet, and the plumage nod.
My hand nor paints fair Venus' amorous wiles,
Her wanton blushes, and her witching smiles,
Nor shews the hero's limbs inglorious laid
On fragrant roses 'neath the myrtle's shade;
Let Pontus' bard sing Cupid's silken sway,
While listening Graces love the tender lay,
My martial pen more horrid forms designs,
Stern Vulcan working 'midst Ætnéan mines,
Where ponderous blows with dreadful art prepare
Those fell machines, the Thunderbolts of War,
Whose force, when skilful hands their power employ,
O'erturn the bulwark, and the town destroy,
Drive fighting legions to the realms of death,
And rule the fate of empires with their breath.
I'll paint the cruel arm from Bayonne nam'd,
Where savage art a new destruction fram'd,
Their powers combin'd where fire and steel impart,
And point a double wound at every heart.
Amidst the ranks, while death and carnage reign,
Calm moves the hero o'er the crimson plain,
Commands fresh troops the dubious fight to wage,
And shews the fatal tempest where to rage.
But ere I open to the youthful heart
These parts sublime, the mysteries of the art,
First shall my precepts to the pupil's sight
Unfold the easier maxims of the fight:
So, ere the eaglets try the realms of air,
The parent's wings her callow offspring bear,
Till bold by use, aloft they proudly rise,
And sail with dauntless pinion through the skies.
Ye warrior youths, impatient now to tread
The dangerous path of Fate, by Honor led!
Torn from a weeping mother's folding arms,
Untried in Fight, and new to War's alarms,
Think not with novice hand to seize renown,
Or pluck from Victory's brow th' eternal crown;
Disdain not first to learn with ceaseless care,
Each nice detail, the Elements of War;
To forms of art your docile bodies yield,
With ready arm the weighty firelock wield;
Firm in your ranks in death-like silence stand,
And wait with watchful eye your chief's command;
Quick at the word, in equal motions all,
Place in the threatening tube the murderous ball;
With steady footsteps wedg'd in close array,
Your ranks unfloating, rapid rush away;
Now halting, to the allotted time attend,
While by platoons unnumber'd deaths you send;
Calmly, though swift, (false haste will still retard,)
March to the post your duty bids you guard,
Attend each signal of your leader's hand,
Who knows not to obey will ne'er command;
With courage thus 'neath valiant Baden's care,
Pass'd Finck the hard apprenticeship of War.
When train'd for fight the embattled cohorts stand,
The meanest soldier helps to form the band;
These are the limbs, and Discipline the soul
Pervades, informs, and regulates the whole.
So that Versailles her silver streams may play
In watry columns to the face of day,
Marly's strong engines fram'd by nicest skill,
Make Seine's subjected waves obey their will;
Ten thousand various wheels, and pumps unseen,
With blended powers compose the vast machine,
Each movement to the whole assistance lends,
Cord waits on cord, and wheel on wheel depends,
Fail but one rope, one pulley move no more,
The frame's disorder'd, and the scene is o'er.
Thus in the host which glory leads to fame,
Should docile courage every breast inflame;
Valor that leaps o'er order's sacred bound
Is often dangerous, always useless found,
Movements uncertain, rashly quick, or slow,
May blast the laurels budding on your brow.
Deem not the nice details of duty vain,
They're the first steps that lead to Victory's fane;
By service taught, and train'd in valor's school,
Soldier yourself, you'll soldiers learn to rule;
Form'd by degrees by Wisdom's careful hand
The prudent leader of a valiant band,
Your steady thoughts will o'er it's ranks preside,
It's daring march with temper'd ardor guide,
Teach it the various forms of fight to know,
And send unerring slaughter on the foe.
Rang'd in three ranks fair Prussia's hardy race
With dauntless front the adverse legions face;
With deeper files their foes, though brave, in vain
Oppose their ardor, and dispute the plain.
Advance with equal pace the close-wedg'd line,
Let in the front the dreadful bayonet shine,
Attack with ardor, and reserve your fire,
So shall the astonish'd foe at once retire.
Your wasted troops must be supplied with care,
Mown down by slaughter in the field of War;
Chuse manly youths with sinews firm and strong
To share the glories of your veteran throng:
Mars loves the swain whose well-knit limbs can take
The heaviest burthens, nor his ranks forsake,
While feebler frames, by labor worn, and pain,
Shall sink beneath the weight of one campaign.
So proudly waving o'er the mountain's brow,
Braves the tough oak the whirlwinds as they blow,
While by it's sturdy side the wintry blast
Lays with it's rage the slender pine-tree waste.
Thus shall new levies fill your daring train,
Strong as the shaggy brood of Libya's plain.
If to renown your daring hopes aspire,
Of various troops the different use acquire.
To arms with which Thessalia's heroes fought,
Join what their foes the active Centaurs taught;
Let a new Pluvinel your coursers train,
To bear the soldier, and obey the rein,
O'er the wide trench with active limbs to bound,
To pass the rivulet, and to leap the mound.
On your strong beast the weighty cuirass wear,
And let your brows the galling helmet bear,
Learn with exactest art the sword to wield,
For oft rude force to active skill must yield;
This ready weapon gleaming in the hand
Shall terrify or break the hostile band,
Deal with resistless force it's deaths around,
While Mars approving smiles on ev'ry wound;
But from the snorting steed, the uncertain fire,
Breaks your own ranks, nor makes the foe retire.
Teach your brave squadrons to perform with care
The various forms of fight, and modes of War,
To halt at once, to wheel in close array,
Nor from their neighbouring troops to break away:
Let some experienced chief with careful art,
Speed join'd with order, to your line impart;
Teach it on every ground with ease to form;
Swift as the lightning, dreadful as the storm,
Shew it at once from pace sedate and slow,
To rush impetuous on the wond'ring foe;
To drive the adverse troops to rapid flight,
And sweep contending armies from the fight.
First bloom'd the laurel bough on Grecia's soil,
Stern Sparta taught the Warrior's generous toil,
While Thebes the close compacted fight begun,
And bade her phalanx glitter in the sun.
Illustrious chiefs of Greece! your sage command
To heroes rais'd the meanest of your band;
Your skill the want of numerous hosts supplied,
And temperate Valor vanquish'd Persian Pride,
While Marathon and Salamis proclaim
To ages yet unborn the Grecian name.
Wondering, the Macedonian Prince behold,
Proud of his friends, and lavish of his gold,
Wealthy in hopes, of warlike Virtue vain,
He fights, he conquers Persia's trembling train;
Astonish'd Asia shrinks beneath the blow,
And yields her riches to the approaching foe,
While by Euphrates' stream his phalanx stood,
Granicus' waves, and Ganges' distant flood.
At length stern Mavors from the eastern shore,
To Rome's proud walls his bloody banners bore;
A warrior nation frantic for alarms
Learn'd from the God himself the use of arms;
They dare their martial neighbours to the field,
And force opposing destiny to yield;
Italia's states their growing power obey,
Bend to their mandates, and increase their sway:
By deeds like these their eagle used to soar,
Now stretch'd her pinions to each distant shore;
Rome 'gainst her foes their Arts improving turns,
And from each war new means of Victory learns;
Her strengthen'd camps all hostile inroads brave,
And Danube trembled from his farthest wave.
Triumphant thus, her conquering bands subdued
Iberia's swains, Germania's hardy brood;
The painted sons of Britain's sea-girt shore
Lament their savage independence o'er;
The Grecian Arts, the Punic Wiles were vain,
And Pontus' Chiefs, and Gallia's giant Train,
And all a vanquish'd World confess'd her boundless reign.
But when that Discipline, whose copious source
Supplied their legions with resistless force,
Beneath their later Cæsars 'gan to fade,
A thousand barbarous hosts their realms invade,
More ruffian rage than warrior art employ,
Each province ravage, and each town destroy,
Till nodding to her fall, the ruin'd state
Her ancient laws neglected mourns too late.
Now long the glorious Art unheeded lay,
Till Charles victorious call'd it into day:
The nations trembling at his warlike reign,
Beheld the unconquer'd infantry of Spain
Reduced by ceaseless care to order's law,
But doom'd to perish in thy fields, Rocroi.
Bursting those bands which long her sons had chain'd,
Arous'd by vengeance, and by Maurice train'd,
Batavia bravely curb'd despotic sway,
And freedom gain'd by learning to obey;
By this illustrious Chief's example fir'd,
The brave Turenne to glory's heights aspir'd;
While, patroniz'd by Lewis' prudent view,
Gallia from him the Hero's Science drew,
And the bold Warrior bow'd his stubborn heart
To the strict rules of Discipline and Art.
Mean while Eugene, the favorite son of Mars,
Form'd for the fight, and doom'd in future wars
To stand firm bulwark of the imperial throne,
Pass'd in his court unnotic'd and unknown.
From him Dessaw, then new to War's alarms,
First learn'd the toilsome rudiments of Arms:
Thus the same powers on Austria's realms who wait,
Became the guardians of the Prussian state.
Mark how in every age this Art alone
Has fix'd the monarch, and maintain'd his throne;
If of this wonderous pile that mates the skies,
On Discipline the first foundations rise,
Let in your mind it's vast importance live,
Which sage experience knows alone to give;
Woe to the Novice who with frantic heart
Shall think, untaught, to try this dangerous Art.
Thus Phaeton, while headstrong passions fire,
Obtains the burning chariot from his sire,
His hands had ne'er the fiery coursers driven,
Nor knew his eyes the devious paths of Heaven;
He seiz'd the reins, his horses start away,
O'er all the ethereal plains at will they stray,
Till struck the impetuous youth by thunder's force,
The hissing waves receive his blacken'd corse.
Rash youths be warn'd! the dangerous frenzy shun,
Nor tempt the timeless fate of Phaeton:
A ruin'd land shall mourn his hapless Wars
Who guides too soon the fiery steeds of Mars.
A POETICAL ESSAY.
By gay Amusement's soul-subduing power
To chear the mournful or the vacant hour,
In fancy's freakful gambols to delight,
Or wage with active limbs the mimic fight,
In earlier times, to breasts mature unknown,
Were cares of playful infancy alone;
Nor did soft dissipation's art assuage
The toils of manhood, or the pains of age.
Not from mankind alone these rules we draw,
Oft warp'd by prejudice from nature's law:
But brutes, who with unbiass'd step pursue
The eternal canons they from instinct drew,
Confirm beyond a doubt this striking truth,
That sports are native attributes of youth.
The lamb frisks wanton o'er the dewy ground,
The kitten hunts its tail in fruitless round;
But o'er the down the ewes all pensive stray,
And grave grimalkin silent waits her prey,
Save when maternal fondness bids her share
The frolick pastimes of her youthful care.
Even so, ere social compact bids arise
Unnumber'd wants, and every want supplies,
Of childhood's joys no evanescent trace
Delights man's sullen solitary race;
For, if his eager footstep haunt the wood,
He urges not the chace for sport but food;
Fierce as the hungry pard, with ravening haste,
Joyless and fell, he prowls the gloomy waste.
And if perchance in polish'd times we find
Pleasure more inmate of the female mind,
Say what forbids our serious thought to draw
The smiling preference from nature's law,
And view the mother's fondness that beguil'd
By kindred sports the sorrows of her child?
Far, far from me be that malignant train,
Who scowl severe on pleasure's silken reign;
Oft may her magic touch with sportive power
Chear the dull languor of the tedious hour;
For hours there are, when the o'er-labor'd sense
Shrinks from the serious toil or thought intense.
Oft to Amusement's visionary sway
The real ills that poison life give way.
In Lydia's plains, so tells the enchanting page
Of Hist'ry's aweful sire the Carian sage,
In Lydia's plains, what time with wasting hand
Remorseless famine ravaged all the land,
And the starv'd native on Pactolus' shore
Ey'd the shrunk wave and curs'd the useless ore,
By sports of art inventive fancy sought
To turn from pinching want the tortur'd thought;
Their fascinating power the mind engag'd,
And hunger for a while unheeded rag'd.
How will Amusement's foes delight to trace
The dreary leisure of the savage race,
Or with imagination's eye pervade
The lonesome refuge of the Indian's shade,
When all the labors of the chace are o'er,
Hunger appeas'd, and sleep can lull no more!
Or let them picture to their aching sight
The lengthen'd horrors of a polar night,
Where, till returning spring dissolves the snow,
No dawning light shall gild the mountain's brow,
Nor can the native ply his needful toil,
Chace the rough bear or turn the ungrateful soil;
Chearless and unemploy'd, condemn'd to wear
In listless apathy the wintry year.
When agriculture to the fertile plain
Lur'd from the barren waste the improving swain,
Soon partial property, with selfish plan,
Her favorites cull'd, and sorted man from man.
Then lusty labor bade the harvest rise
To sate the lazy owner's pamper'd eyes;
Who, deeming useful toil beneath his care,
Pass'd all his hours in indolence and war,
Or sought in peace by dangerous sports to gain
A mimic semblance of the martial plain,
Rov'd 'mid the forest haunts with wild delight,
And wag'd with beasts of prey the unequal fight,
Or with his fellow warriors joy'd to wield
In friendly strife the weapons of the field,
In sportive exercise the javelin threw,
Pois'd the long lance, or bent the twanging yew.
Hence Grecia's chiefs the prize triumphant bore
From Pisa's groves or Isthmus' wave-worn shore,
While garlands of eternal fame inspire
The kindling raptures of a Pindar's lyre,—
Hence in the tournament the mail-clad knight
Provok'd his peers to dare the listed fight,
Urg'd his barb'd courser to the swift career,
And broke in beauty's cause the ashen spear,
While to the warbling harp's responsive string,
Applauding bards the victor's triumph sing.
Nor was the humbler swain, who till'd the ground,
Condemn'd to labor's unremitting round;
For, when the plenteous produce of the soil
Stor'd in full garners pays his annual toil,
Or when their fleecy weight his flocks resign,
Or laughing autumn swells the purple vine,
As pious cares his grateful mind employ,
He consecrates the hallow'd hours to joy;
Stretch'd on the turf the blazing hearth around,
While by the talking eld the bowl is crown'd,
With sinewy limbs the rustic youth contend,
Or to the mark the unerring javelin send,
And from the village maid's approving eyes
The jocund victor gains the fairest prize.
When opulence assum'd his golden reign,—
With luxury and science in his train,
And beauty, man's fastidious empire o'er,—
Join'd in the scenes she only judg'd before,
The vacant hours to gentler toils invite,—
Than the rude image of the bleeding sight;
Each coarse delight to softer joy gives place,
And sports of labor yield to sports of grace.—
Responsive to the lyre's inspiring sound,
In mingled measure now they beat the ground,
Now on the chequer'd field with silent care
Attentive wage the sedentary war.
Even manlier exercise the arts despoil
Of half its danger, and of half its toil:
No more the knight, in shining armour dress'd,
Opposes to the pointed lance his breast;
Scarce does the skilful fencer's bosom feel
The pliant pressure of the bated steel;
For the stupendous quoit or craggy stone,
Afar with emulous contention thrown,
Deliver'd with inferior force is seen
The bowl slow-rolling o'er the shaven green;
Or else, defended from inclement skies,
The ball rebounding from the racket flies;
Or o'er the cloth, impell'd by gentler skill,
The ivory orbs the net insidious sill.
Even in those rougher transports of the chace,
Where nature's genuine form we seem to trace,
And art appears unequal to supply
Assistance to the calls of luxury,
For the wild tenants of the wood and plain
Still their primæval character retain,
Still will their wiles the experienc'd hunter foil,
And still fatigue attend on cold and toil;
Even in the forest-walks has polish'd care
Taught healthful sport a gentler form to wear.
Swoln opulence is not content to stray
In anxious search thro' many a tedious day,
Where constant hopes the eager thought employ,
And expectation doubles every joy:
But the wing'd tribe, by care domestic bred,
Watch'd with attention, with attention fed,
Where'er the sportsman treads in clouds arise,
Prevent his wish, and sate his dazzled eyes;
And each redoubled shot with certain aim
Covers the ensanguin'd field with home-bred game—
Transporting joy! to vulgar breasts unknown,
Save to the poulterer and cook alone;
Who search the crouded coop with equal skill,
As sure to find, almost as sure to kill.
No more the courser with attentive eyes
'Mid the rank grass and tangled stubble pries,
Till, many an hour in watchful silence pass'd,
A moment's frenzy pays his toil at last.
No chearful beagle now, at early dawn,
Explores with tender nose the dewy lawn,
Avows the recent path with carol sweet,
And trails the listening leveret to her seat;
Stretch'd on the couch the lazy sportsmen lie,
Till Sol ascending gilds the southern sky,
And leave the hind, with mercenary care,
To seek the refuge of the lurking hare.
Dullest of all pursuits, why mention here
The chace inglorious of the stall-fed deer?
When even that generous race who justly claim
Toilsome pre-eminence of sylvan fame,
Who joy to lay with sanguine vengeance low
The sheepfold and the henyard's treacherous foe;
Even they who us'd, ere morn's first opening light,
To trace the skulking felon of the night,
With slacken'd vigor now their sports delay,
Till Phoebus pours the orient beams of day.
Nor does the drag, evaporating soon,
Beneath the warmer influence of noon,
Frustrate their hopes; for, bearing in their mind
That well-known adage, 'Those that hide can find,'
Sure of success, the covert they explore,
For foxes turn'd adrift the night before.
But say, is this the pastime of the fields,
Where panting expectation rapture yields?—
Coldly the certain victim we pursue,
And losing doubt we lose the transport too.
If such the texture luxury has thrown
O'er scenes confin'd to ruder man alone,
What shall we find them when the gentler fair
Mix with the band and every pleasure share?—
Not those bold dames who join the rustic train,
Chear the staunch hound, the fiery courser rein;
Or those to point the feather'd shaft who know,
And joy 'to bear, and draw the warrior bow.'
O may Britannia's nymphs such arts despise,
Content alone to conquer with their eyes!
For Omphale as ill the lion's spoil
Becomes, as Hercules the distaff's toil;
But such as haunt the seats of courtly fame,
Where female charms the first attention claim,
And their contending powers the arts employ
To ravish every sense with every joy.—
The splendid theatre's refulgent round,—
With pomp, with elegance, with beauty crown'd.—
Not that I mean whose homelier scenes invite
To tales of grief, of humour, of delight,
Where Shakespear's honied style enthralls the ear,
Wakes the loud laugh, or draws the heart-felt tear—
Shakespear! ador'd in these degenerate days,
To whom we hymns inscribe, and temples raise,
Worship his image, and neglect his plays.—
Ah! who the evening's festal hours will quit
For scenes of tragic woe or comic wit?—
Scenes of a purer polish must engage
The loose attention of a courtly age;
Scenes where satiric point ne'er gives offence,
Or verse disturbs its placid stream with sense;
Where from Hesperian fields the eunuch train
Trill with soft voice the unimpassion'd strain,
In measur'd cadence while the dancers art
Wakes without words the feelings of the heart.
Delightful joys! of universal power,
Suited to every taste and every hour,
Since the loose drama no connexion ties,
And all may judge who trust their ears and eyes.—
See in majestic swell yon festive dome,
Like the Pantheon of imperial Rome,
And where as many fabled forms unite,
Visions of bliss or demons of affright.
Or, sought in vernal hours, that ampler space
Where beauty's steps the eternal circle trace,
And midnight revelry delights her soul
With breezes redolent of tea and roll,
In fragrant steam while thro' the crouded room
The Arabian berry yields its rich perfume,
And 'mid the murmurs of the mingled throng
Unheeded music swells the slighted song;
Or, Lent's delight, the Oratorio dull,
Of yawning connoisseurs and coxcombs full;
When, plays profane deny'd, our ears explore
The pious freaks of Alexander's whore;
The rout repeated with incessant call,
The formal concert, and the mirthless ball.—
Say is this joy?—Yes, to the virgin's heart
First stung by potent love's resistless smart;
Who 'mid the empty croud of silken beaux
Her glance on one distinguish'd fav'rite throws;
Yes, to the insidious wretch whose guilty care
Hunts artless virtue into vice's snare,
Whose every thought and action is address'd
To wound a parent's or a husband's breast,
Or that more gross tho' less pernicious tribe
Who venal beauty's joyless favors bribe;
Yes, to the rural nymph of distant plains
Who three sweet months of charming London gains;
Yes, to the youth escap'd from smoke and trade
To shew the western town his stol'n cockade:—
To these, where passion gently soothes the breast,
Or vice affords their joys a guilty zest;
Or novelty, fair pleasure's youthful queen,
Gives fresh allurements to each splendid scene,
To these, in fancy's varying mirror shown,
Amusement charms with beauties not its own.—
To all the rest, with listless mind who fly
To midnight crouds from languor's leaden eye,
To the full circle run from home-felt care,
Then start to meet the ghastly spectre there,
The night of revel wears as dull away
As to th' o'erlabor'd hind the tedious day.—
Of these our joys how transient then the state,
Since still disgust must on possession wait!
Pleasure we all pursue with eager pace,
Yet lose the quarry when we lose the chace;
Thro' fancy's medium when our view we bend,
Ten thousand charms the ideal form attend;
Shewn plainly to our disappointed eyes
The enchantment breaks, and every beauty flies.—
The sprightly boy who draws in shadowy plan
The future pleasures of the envied man,
His father's hounds in all his brothers views,
And warm a visionary fox pursues;
Or else, like Hecat', mounted on a broom
His fancied racer spurs around the room;
Tho' airy phantoms then his mind employ,
Yet then he feels more true substantial joy
Than all the sports of ripen'd age shall gain
From Meynell's hunt, or fam'd Newmarket's plain.
Yet not alone to rich Augusta's towers,
A nation's wealth where dissipation showers;
Or Bladud's walls, in rising splendor dress'd,
Proud of the healing fount, and frequent guest;
Or those unnumber'd shores where fashion laves
Her jaded limbs in ocean's briny waves;—
Not to these seats, for courtly haunts design'd,
Is pleasure's universal reign confin'd:
Britannia scarcely owns a town so small
As not to boast its periodic ball,
Where, when full-orb'd, Diana pours her light,
And gilds the darkness of the wintry night,
The village beaux and belles their hours employ—
In the full swing of fashionable joy:—
Aside the unfinish'd handkerchief is thrown,
And the fair sempstress adjusts her own;
The apothecary quits the unpounded pill,
Even the attorney drops his venal quill,
And, as his eyes the sprightly dance behold,
Forgets to drain the widow's purse of gold.—
To these 'tis joy.—But even the courtly train,
Anxious the dregs of pleasure's bowl to drain,
When, fully sated with each splendid show
That elegance and grandeur can bestow,
To rural solitude they fly, will there
This faint reflection of amusement share.
When from Southampton's or from Brighton's shore,
Which charm'd when London's revelry was o'er,
The fading beauty of autumnal hours,
Recalls the sportsman to his native bowers,
To tell his neighbours all the toils of state,
Recount of public cares the enormous weight,
And how he slumber'd thro' the long debate;
His wife and daughters quit the Gothic hall
To taste the raptures of the rustic ball.
The high-born misses, insolent and vain,
Scorn while they mingle with the homely train,
Still at the top, in spite of order, stand,
And hardly touch a mean plebeian hand;
While madam, eager 'mid the card-room's strife,
Insults the lawyer's and the curate's wife,
Now smiles contemptuous, now with anger burns,
And domineers and scolds, and cheats by turns;
Pleas'd on the village gentry to retort
Slights she receives from dutchesses at court.
But what are these, by starts alone pursu'd,
These partial errors of the moon?—when view'd
By that assemblage of each rustic grace,
That cynosure of joy, a county race;
Where, with fatigue and dulness in her train,
Provincial pleasure holds her proudest reign?
O that my Muse in equal verse could tell
Each varied object which she knows so well!—
The crowded ordinary's loud repast,
The frequent bumper swallow'd down in haste,
The rattling carriage driven with drunken speed,
The bawling hawker, and the restive steed,
The proffer'd bet with interjection strong,
And the shrill squallings of the female throng;
The sounding hoof, the whip's coercive sound,
As the fleet coursers stretch along the ground,
When the repeated oath and menace loud
Warn from the listed course the pressing croud;
The various horrors of the narrow lane,
As the promiscuous heaps the town regain,
Where coaches, waggons, horsemen, footmen, all
Rush eager to the alehouse, or the ball;
The fragrant toilette of the crouded room,
The stables and the kitchen's mix'd perfume;
The minuet's sober note till midnight drawn,
The gayer dance beyond the hour of dawn,
While the vex'd gamester at his rubber hears
The eternal tune still droning in his ears;
The supper, circling toast, and choral lay,
Protracted far into the solid day;
The interrupted sleep, till noon again
Rouse to the early feast the drowsy train,
And to the bev'rage of the Indian weed
The smoking haunch and mantling bowl succeed.—
Is this Amusement?—Ask the county knight,
Press'd into pleasure in his own despight,
Who, quitting all the placid joys of home
For seven months session in St. Stephen's dome,
Compell'd each office of fatigue to share,
And every quarter fill the Quorum's chair,
Must all these mingled forms of mirth partake,
Drink, dance, and gamble for his country's sake;
Ask him if days in dull committees spent,
Or sleepless nights to oratory lent,
Tho' litigation waste the morning's hours,
Or fancy crown the eve with eastern flowers;
Ask him if months that toils like these employ,
Are half so hard as this oppressive joy.
Yet to the village sons who throng the ground,
Sent forth in numbers from each cottage round,
Who leave awhile untill'd the fertile soil,
And snatch a respite from diurnal toil,
These varied sports a real joy afford,
No art can give the pleasure-sated lord.
Behold the transports of yon festive scene,
Where the wide country on the tented green
Its inmates pours, impatient all to share
The expected pleasures of the annual fair!—
See to the amorous youth and village maid
The pedlar's silken treasury display'd;
The liquorish boy the yellow simnel eyes,
The champion's cudgel wins the envied prize;
The martial trumpet calls the gazers in
Where lions roar, or fierce hyenas grin.—
Responsive to the tabor's sprightly sound
Behold the jingling morrice beat the ground,
The neighing courser sleek and trick'd for sale,
Grains in his paunch and ginger in his tail;
The dwarf and giant painted to the life,
The spirit-stirring drum, and shrill-ton'd fife,
Prelusive to the warlike speech that charms
The kindling heroes of the plain to arms.—
Here bliss unfeign'd in every eye we trace,
Here heart-felt mirth illumines every face,
For pleasure here has never learn'd to cloy,
But days of toil enliven hours of joy.
Joy, how unlike its unsubstantial shade
Which faintly haunts the midnight masquerade,
Where the distorted vizard ill conceals
The deep ennui each languid bosom feels,
And, but for shame, each vot'ry of delight,
Fatigued with all the nonsense of the night,
Would, like Squire Richard, seek with sated eye
Wrestling and backsword for variety.
Nor do I fable—worn with constant care
Of fev'rish riot and fantastic glare,
From splendid luxury our youth resort
To all the roughness of barbarian sport,
And leave each softer elegance of town
To share the pastime of the rustic clown;
Croud to behold, on the forbidden stage,
Christian and Jew in bloody fight engage,
Amusement in a fractur'd shoulder spy,
And gaze with rapture on a batter'd eye.
Nor this alone: reflection's form to shun
To scenes of business indolence will run.
Fatigu'd and cloy'd, of rest impatient still,
What crouds the senate's loaded gall'ry fill!
From Siddons' tears and Jordan's smile they fly
To long harangues, impell'd by novelty;
As pleas'd when dulness lulls, with cadence deep,
Knights, citizens, and burgesses to sleep,
As when, aroused in freedom's hallow'd cause,
Unsullied praise the Son of Chatham draws,
And eloquence, with more than Grecian art,
Decks the pure dictates of a Cato's heart.
Of British politics, ah selfish pride!
Which joys like these to female ears deny'd;
Till beauty's champion, with attentive care,
Turn'd out a Nabob to divert the fair,
And now they hear his chosen band dispense
The cream of opposition eloquence.
But say, what fashionable form appears,
Whose vacant brow reflection's aspect wears?
Who rolls the eye with senseless sapience full,
In trifles wise, and venerably dull?—
I know him well.—In midnight fumes enclos'd
Of the Virginian weed, while Folly doz'd,
Dulness advanc'd with Aldermannic tread
In solemn silence to the ideot's bed,
And in the produce of the stol'n embrace
The father's sense, and mother's wit we trace:
Both with a parent's love their offspring kiss'd,
Presag'd his future fame, and call'd him Whist.
Far from the courtly race, in private bred,
With rural swains his early youth he led,
The chearing solace, by the wintry fire,
Of the fat parson or the drunken squire;
Till, when each livelier game could charm no more,
And dear Quadrille itself became a bore,
Capricious taste, with novel nonsense fraught,
To town this scientific stranger brought,
Taught him the courtly circle's smile to share,
Till fashion bade him reign sole monarch there.
Struck with amaze, his sprightlier rivals fly
The chilling torpor of his gorgon eye:
Spadille no longer rears his sable shield,
Pam drops his halberd and forsakes the field.—
See where around the silent vot'ries sit,
To radiant beauty blind, and deaf to wit;
Each vacant eye appears with wisdom fraught,
Each solemn blockhead looks as if he thought.
Here coward insolence insults the bold,
And selfish av'rice boasts his lust of gold;
Ill-temper vents her spleen without offence,
And pompous dulness triumphs over sense.
Should some intrusive infant in the room
Disturb with jocund voice the general gloom,
The parent's eye, with short-liv'd frenzy wild,
Reproves the frolic of his wiser child.—
O strange extreme of fancy's wayward mood!
Distemper'd pleasure's sickly change of food,
Which, loathing every taste of known delight,
Provokes with trash her blunted appetite.—
Yet, if this stretch of studious thought be joy,
Let schemes of use the anxious mind employ,
Turn Wingate's solid pages, or explore
The untried depth of mathematic lore;
Or else with Herschell's telescopic eye
Trace new-found planets thro' the vaulted sky;
Or, if the cold blood curdling round the heart,
Deny of science this sublimer part,
On politics awake the learn'd debate,
For every Briton knows to mend the state;
Nor strive in serious trifles to excel,
Which childhood even might blush to know too well.
Far from fantastic fashion's giddy range,
Far from the dulness of fastidious change,
Pleasure, by fancy's airy fingers dress'd,
Object of every wish in every breast,
Holds her abode; nor shall o'erweening pride
Her roseate smiles in gloomy accent chide.—
O may I oft partake her genial hour,
Join in her train, and bless her friendly power;
Oft taste the pure unsullied scenes of joy,
Where wit and beauty mingled charms employ;
The free libation of the temperate bowl,
'The feast of reason, and the flow of soul;'
The theatre, where truth, by genius dight,
Holds her broad mirror to the conscious sight;
The heart-felt thrilling of the warbled lay,
The dancing measures of the young and gay;
The manlier sports, where hope, by doubt repress'd,
With expectation fires the panting breast,
And languor on the upland brow inhales
New health and vigor from the morning gales;
The evening walk, when spring adorns the glades,
Or summer's foliage all the forest shades;
The joyous hours, when winter bids retire
To the warm comfort of the social fire;
The honest laugh, which care's stern brow unbends;
The brilliant jest, which shines but ne'er offends;
The tender strain, the hymn to Bacchus roar'd
In choral transport round the festive board;
The catch, which oft in vain the songsters try,
While one is still too low, and one too high,
Till, after many a fruitless effort pass'd,
The harmonious discord is produc'd at last;
Even cards, if cards can e'er the mind engage,
Divested quite of avarice and rage,
Even cards some drowsy interval may chear,
But ne'er in wisdom's borrow'd robe appear;—
And, only source of pleasure's keenest zest,
May some pursuit still animate the breast;
From whence, returning to the sportful hour,
Amusement charms with renovated power.
For let the Muse, in her concluding strain,
This truth impart to pleasure's votive train;—
Urg'd to excess all human bliss must cloy,
And joy perpetual ceases to be joy.
Faringdon Hill. Book I
A Poem In Two Books
Now with meridian force the orb of day
Pours on our throbbing heads his sultry ray;
O'er the wide concave of the blue serene
No fleecy cloud or vapory mist is seen;
The panting flocks and herds, at ease reclin'd,
Catch the faint eddies of the flitting wind;
To silence hush'd is every rural sound;
And noontide spreads a solemn stillness round
Alike our languid limbs would now forsake
The open meadow, and the tangled brake;
Here Sol intensely glows, and there the trees
Mix their thick foliage, and exclude the breeze.—
Come let us quit these scenes, and climb yon brow,
Yon airy summit where the Zephyrs blow;
While waving o'er our heads the welcome shade,
Shuts out the sunbeams from the upland glade:
No steep ascent we scale with feverish toil,
No rocks alarm us, and no mountains foil;
But as we gently tread the rising green,
Large, and more large extends the spacious scene;
Till on the verdant top our labour crown'd,
The wide Horizon is our only bound.
What various objects scatter'd round us lie,
And charm on every side the curious eye!—
Amidst such ample stores, how shall the Muse
Know where to turn her sight, and which to choose?—
Here lofty mountains lift their azure heads;
There it's green lap the grassy meadow spreads;
Enclosures here the sylvan scene divide;
There plains extended spread their harvests wide;
Here oaks, their mossy limbs wide stretching, meet
And form impervious thickets at our feet;
Through aromatic heaps of ripening hay,
There silver Isis wins her winding way;
And many a tower, and many a spire between,
Shoots from the groves, and cheers the rural scene.
Still as I look, fresh objects seem to rise;
And lovelier pictures strike my raptur'd eyes,
As young remembrance paints each sylvan glade,
Where full of glee my careless childhood stray'd.
Though other hills perhaps as large a field
To warm description's fairy powers may yield,
As rich a prospect to the sight display,
O'er meads as verdant, and o'er plains as gay;
Yet, when in Memory's fond mirror shewn,
The country smiles with beauties not it's own;
Her fair reflection new delight supplies,
And every floweret blooms with deeper dyes;
The landscape seems to brighten while I gaze,
And Phoebus shines with more than summer rays;
O'er the high woods a livelier verdure reigns,
And more luxuriant harvests deck the plains;
Even when fell winter spreads his mantle drear,
And big with snow descends the inclement year,
Let but her glass reflect the dismal view,
The wither'd trees their wonted charms renew;
The feather'd tribes resume their chearing lay,
And spring her odors, and his beams the day;
December yields to April's milder power,
And vernal blossoms grace the wintry hour.
O sacred Nature! Nymph divinely bright!
Unfold thy various prospects to my sight;
With thee o'er breezy uplands let me rove,
Or tread the devious labyrinth of the grove;
When from the east the glorious orb of day
Shoots o'er the burnish'd cliff his golden ray,
When splendid in meridian light array'd,
His piercing beams the woodland gloom pervade;
When wrap'd in misty evening's sober reign
The increasing darkness steals across the plain;
When o'er the dusky stole of silent night
The Delian Goddess throws her silver light;
When gently o'er the flower-empurpled vale
The vernal Zephyrs breathe a genial gale;
When, as fierce Summer's sultry beams descend,
With blushing fruit the loaded branches bend;
When Autumn crowns the hills with waving corn,
And pours profusion from his twisted horn;
While deepening shade on shade the woods are seen,
From the full crimson to the faded green;
Or when, it's leafy honors swept away,
The scatter'd forest yields to winter's sway;
When the cascade, by icy fetters tied,
Must cease to murmur, and the stream to glide;
While blows the storm, or falls the chilling rain,
Or fleecy snows o'erspread the whiten'd plain;
In every hour and season let me trace,
Enchanting Nature! thy transcendant grace;
With eager eyes thy lovely form survey,
And bless with grateful voice thy boundless sway.
Happy the youth! on whose high honor'd head
The sacred Nine their fostering influence shed,
Though they refuse the lasting wreath, whose bloom
Shall grace his living brow, and deck his tomb;
For the fresh laurel give a sickly flower,
Boast of a day, and glory of an hour;
Yet taught by them his ravish'd eyes explore
The choicest objects of thy charming store:
For him their strains the sylvan warblers breathe,
For him fair Maia twines her flowery wreath;
Fragrant for him the morning breezes blow,
The poplar trembles, and the fountains flow;
Thy various beauties strike his raptur'd breast,
And Nature doubly charms by Fancy dress'd.
Enough has Fancy, frantic with delight,
O'er the gay region stretch'd her vagrant flight;
Let sage Experience now of brow severe
Arrest her soaring in her bold career:
Nor thou, historic Truth, thy aid refuse,
But join the labors of the rural Muse;
With friendly care the pleasing toil divide,
That while she paints the blooming landscape's pride,
Thy voice each storied relick may explain,
And tell the former fortunes of the plain.
First to the north direct your roving eyes,
Where fair Oxonia's verdant hills arise;
There Burford's downs invite the healthful chace,
Or urge the emulous coursers to the race;
While as with agile limbs the ascent they scale,
Rush down the steep, or sweep across the vale,
Exulting Hope, by turns, and chilling Fear
In the pale cheek and eager eye appear;
Each generous fire in every heart is lost,
By fortune favor'd, or by fortune cross'd;
Flies every Virtue, withers every Grace,
And all the selfish Passions take their place.
Emerging from the thicket's bosom, there
See Bamptom's pointed steeple rise in air:
To farther distance now the prospect drawn,
Lo Witney's spire diversifies the lawn!
Whose busy loom to balmy sleep supplies
A guard from wintry cold and freezing skies:
There Whichwood's oaks thick-waving o'er the glade
Yield to the salvage tribe an ample shade:
And in the horizon faintly ting'd with blue
Thy woods, imperial Blenheim! close the view,
Nature between one verdant carpet spreads
Of fruitful pastures and enamel'd meads;
Whose bending reeds, and osier'd banks among,
Fair Isis rolls her virgin waves along;
Her horn while Plenty pours on every side,
And Pales revels where her waters glide.
Hail, lovely Isis! dear parental stream!
The pride of Commerce, and the Poet's theme:
Though, vain of borrow'd pomp, imperious Thame,
Deck'd with the praise which ought to wait thy name,
Triumphant pours his swelling waves along,
Hail'd by the bard, and dignified in song;
Thy silver urn the affluent tide bestows,
And from thy source the plenteous current flows:
Such is the fate that female honors find,
When to a mate unequal fondly join'd.
O had thy stream! like Arethuse of old,
It's virgin waters unpolluted roll'd,
Old Thame through humble vales had pass'd alone,
Sung by no bard, unnoticed, and unknown;
While thine had been confess'd the unrival'd pride,
To waft in commerce with each rising tide,
With foreign spoils Augusta's walls to greet,
And lay the nations tribute at her feet:
Thine been the boast to flow, with current clear,
Through meads to British Freedom ever dear,
Where the bold Barons in a happy hour
Wrested her charter from a tyrant's power;
While grateful bards contended to rehearse
Thy virgin glories in no vulgar verse:
For long as Windsor rais'd her sylvan shade
Or Cooper's swelling hill o'erlook'd the glade,
Sacred to fame thy stream had flow'd along,
In Pope's soft lays, or Denham's sounding song.
Then as thy lucid current gently stray'd
Through fair Etona's academic shade;
While by thy side his silver Lyre he strung,
Gray to thy wave his dulcet notes had sung:
And many a bard in Granta's vale who strays,
And tunes to hoary Cam his votive lays,
Whose youthful Fancy and Invention new
Cull'd the fresh flowers that on thy borders grew,
Had join'd to celebrate thy classic fame,
And half his tribute paid to Isis' name.
And lo! where heathy Cumner's envious height
Hides all thy letter'd triumph from my sight!
Where 'midst fair Rhedicina's gothic towers,
Her hallow'd cloisters, and Pierian bowers,
Isis her silver urn inclines, and views
The votive wreath of every grateful Muse.
No rivulet there from thee their tribute draws,
Usurps thy fame, or shares their just applause:
But gentle Cherwell hears with joy their lays,
And loves the strain that chants a sister's praise;
Pleas'd if the Muse, to grace her head, bestows
One roseate flower that on thy Margin blows.
Nor shall thy reeds in future times complain
Of slighted worth and Thame's usurp'd domain;
That his too favor'd stream with princely waves
The crowded walls of proud Augusta laves;
The votive verse that Pope and Denham raise,
And breathe to him the swelling note of praise;
For him that Gray the strain unequal'd frames,
And sings the moral ode to hoary Thames;
Since fair Oxonia's polish'd sons unite
To vindicate thy classic current's right;
Since every Muse to thee consigns her lays,
And every Science on thy border strays;
And every Grace, and every Art, whose powers
In symmetry have rais'd her dædal towers,
To listening crowds thy parent worth proclaim,
And found their pride on thy maternal name.
Ere yet such scenes of pomp thy channel knows,
While humbly here thy lingering water flows;
While yet thy virgin waves obscurely glide,
Sung by no Muse, nor boast a classic tide;
Say wilt thou here incline thy urn, to heed
The inglorious warbling of my Doric reed?
Though here no city spread her various stores,
No costly villas crown thy peopled shores;
Yet every charm of Peace's rural reign
Attends thy progress through each smiling plain.
The flocks and herds here crowd thy rushy brink,
Graze on thy sides or from thy bosom drink;
And every herb, and every flower that blows
On the green margin where thy current flows;
If a luxuriant bloom they justly boast,
Beyond the produce of another coast;
As in thy glassy wave their charms they see,
Shall own they owe each vivid tint to thee.
Yet glittering spears have here been whilom seen,
And purple war has stain'd thy osiers green;
Here hostile swords have shed a horrid gleam,
And floating corses chok'd thy frighted stream;
While Civil Discord drove with hideous roar
The trembling Naiads from thy widow'd shore.
Ah! ne'er may arms again thy seats invade,
Or shouts of war disturb thy hallow'd shade;
But heaven-born Peace with Plenty in her train
Fix on thy sedgy banks her halcyon reign.
Here too, more fell than war's destructive race,
Has Superstition shewn her gorgon face:
Here where thy chearing stream with gentle waves
These fertile meads and verdant pastures laves,
Where now unwearied Industry resides,
And Toil exulting tills thy fruitful sides;
For Liberty protects the happy swains,
And Property secures what labor gains;
Erst the rich soil, though cultur'd, useless lay,
To monkish ease and luxury a prey,
While distant abbeys with thy wealth were stor'd,
The British subjects of an alien lord.
When bigot John, despotic power to gain,
Found open force and treacherous cunning vain;
His daring nobles fir'd by virtuous pride
His arts eluded, and his force defied;
With Rome's anathemas he arm'd his hand,
And papal thunders shook the trembling land;
Thirsting for lawless sway, he stoop'd to own
His crown dependant on a foreign throne;
To foreign lords ignoble homage gave,
To reign at home a tyrant and a slave.
'Twas then the ravenous monks, a sordid crew,
O'er all the wasted land like locusts flew;
Each rich demesne that to the crown remain'd,
By right, by forfeiture, or conquest gain'd,
Was given to gratify the Church's pride,
And bribe the holy cohorts to his side.
Even 'mid those scenes of devastation wild,
Where William's power the fertile district spoil'd,
The gazing pilgrim saw with strange surprize
Aspiring structures 'midst the desert rise;
And where no trace of man's abode was seen,
No noise disturb'd the tenants of the green,
Save the seas breaking o'er the sounding shore,
Or the faint dashing of the distant oar;
There haughty Beaulieu's gothic arches bend,
And high in air her glittering spires ascend;
While the wild forest's hairy sons around
Start at the unusual anthem's swelling sound.
These fruitful plains, in that unhappy hour
Of papal sway and sacerdotal power,
Were doom'd the new-rais'd abbey to maintain,
And distant Beaulieu rul'd the fair domain.
The famish'd swain beheld with mournful eye
The verdant meadows round him useless lie;
While pamper'd ignorance and priestly pride
The rich productions of the land divide;
Till Henry's haughty soul the bondage broke,
Redeem'd the nation from the servile yoke,
And suffer'd active Industry once more
To dwell, fair Isis! by thy happy shore:
Hence as these blooming fields, (thus heaven decreed,)
A tyrant shackled, so a tyrant freed.
Yet now, as thro' the abbey's mouldering dome
The Muses oft with wandering footsteps roam,
And, while with silver radiance Luna's beam
Shoots through the lengthening isles a trembling gleam,
As pensive Meditation points the way,
By ruin'd piles and nodding towers they stray:
See o'er the impending arch the ivy spread,
And gothic pillars threat the passer's head,
Struck with the awful scene, the astonish'd train
Bewail the fall of Superstition's reign.
Hence many a bard has o'er the ruins hung,
And mourn'd the devastation as he sung;
Has Error's fate in plaintive verse deplor'd,
And wept the day that Reason's rights restor'd.
As bending upward near her scanty source
We backward trace the river's narrowing course,
Her pointed spire see Lechlade proudly rears!
And lowly Cricklade on her banks appears;
Cricklade, where first, when Grecia's letter'd train,
By Slavery exil'd from their native plain,
To fair Hesperia's vales their science bore,
To Gallia's fields, and Albion's distant shore;
Those strains Ilissus' stream was wont to hear
Were pour'd, O Isis, on thy raptur'd ear:
While Grecia's Muse, around whose matron brow
Had twin'd the Athenian olive's fruitful bough,
Forc'd by the rage of Mahomet's savage host
To quit with lingering step Byzantium's coast;
Her drooping forehead with thy osiers bound,
And on thy brink a new Lyceum found;
Till woo'd by princely gifts, these peaceful bowers
She left for Granta's and Oxonia's towers.
And here thy waves, by learning now unknown,
To busy Commerce sacred flow alone,
Where first the loaded raft, and cumberous barge,
Trust to thy placid breast their weighty charge.
Ah, Isis! can the Muse forget that hand,
Whose wanton cruelty thy ruin plann'd?
Or not forgetting, from resentment free,
Recall the hours that threaten'd fate to thee?—
When vain projectors doom'd thy stream to flow
Through meads, neglected, lingering, sad, and slow;
Till the o'er-loaded wave should scarcely force
Through gathering sand, and sedge, it's laboring course;
While in thy stead their plastic power should guide
The stagnate lake by wintry rains supplied.
Perish such schemes! nor by their use be lost
The noblest river, Britain's Isle can boast!—
Let channels, form'd by art, be ever led
Where no fair current wears a native bed;
Then through the obstructing hill, and o'er the vale,
Like Egerton conduct the swelling sail:
Even Isis shall applaud, if from her source,
To where Sabrina pours her amber course,
They bid the smooth canal it's length display,
And feed with copious springs the tedious way:
Till the fraught barge the extended line explores
From Bristol's crowded wharf to London's princely shores.
More westward when we cast our wandering eyes,
Level as ocean's bed the champaign lies:
While, like some promontory's rugged brow,
Proud Badbury's height o'erlooks the plain below,
Where, in yon Saxon camp, the mill its sails
Spreads to the wind, and courts the rising gales.
Beneath how open lies the spacious scene!
No lofty mountains envious intervene;
But o'er the extended lawns our fancies stray,
Till lost in hazy mists they fade away;
By faint degrees the distant prospect dies,
And the blue landscape melts into the skies.
Where gently Cole's pellucid waters glide,
Here Fairford rears her tower with conscious pride;
Whose windows, with historic painting dight,
Attract the curious traveller's wondering sight:
And there, conspicuous 'mid the lawny glade,
Fair Cirencester spreads her ample shade.
Hail happy seat! whose twilight glooms among
Full many a bard has rais'd the tuneful song.
Grows not an oak his hundred arms who spreads
O'er the gay verdure of thy fruitful meads;
Sighs not a grotto to thy murmuring gales,
Nor flows a fountain through thy winding vales,
But seems a classic influence to diffuse,
To Science dear, and haunted by the Muse:
Who oft as morning pours her misty ray,
Or fades the glimmering beam of parting day,
Explores each nodding grove, and every plain,
Sacred to her and all her favorite train.
These scenes could Addison's chaste notes inspire;
Here Pope harmonious struck his silver lyre;
Caught 'midst these solemn shades the glorious plan,
'To vindicate the ways of God to man.'
Arbuthnot here, and Swift, with useful art,
Rear'd Satire's dreaded scourge, or steel'd her dart:
Here Prior the Graces form'd thy softer lay
And taught the moral strain to blameless Gay;
Each pleas'd the Master's praises to engage,
The famed Mæcenas of that happier age.
After such bards, O Bathurst, wilt thou deign
To mark the notes of my inglorious strain?
Shall I presume in these degenerate days
To form one humble verse to Bathurst's praise?
Yes, thou wilt deign my artless notes to hear,
Wilt to my strain inglorious bend thine ear;
And as thy patronage, with noontide ray,
Bade to full vigor shoot the verdant bay,
Taught it the storms of Envy to deride,
And spread it's waving boughs with summer pride;
So thy declining beam with milder power
Shall shed it's influence on the autumnal flower.
O blest old man! on thy thrice happy head
Her choicest gifts has smiling Fortune shed;
Has been for once from taste capricious free,
And true to virtue's cause in favoring thee.
As Anna's hand around thy youthful brow
Thy country's fairest honors taught to grow;
So now, while Justice bids exulting Fame
Tell to succeeding times her Apsley's name,
Marking the source from whence his merit flows,
A fresher wreath thy grateful Prince bestows.
Meantime, disarm'd of all his hostile rage,
Lenient on thee descends the weight of Age;
While still thy soul preserves her wonted power,
To charm the letter'd or the social hour:
No sharp Disease attends his gentle reign,
Nor palsied Indolence nor wasting Pain,
But healthful through the woods thy footsteps stray,
Where thy own oaks their gloomy shade display:
For to thy lot of all mankind is given
That joy peculiar by indulgent heaven,
To see, while round the barbarous hand of taste
Deforms the grove, and lays the forest waste,
O'er each uncultur'd hill, and barren glade,
Thy rising thickets spread unusual shade,
And, in their full luxuriance dress'd, display
Their waving foliage to the face of day.
May thy example Britain's lords inspire!
O may they catch from thee the patriot fire!
Then shall the Dryads, and their sprightly train,
Rove o'er the extent of many a barren plain:
O'er the bleak waste, where dreary heath and skies
Fatigue the sight, the forest then should rise;
Again on Windsor's heights the woods be seen,
And all her sable hills be cloth'd with green;
Her russet mountains send their oaks once more
To waft destruction to some hostile shore.
What tho' Britannia's plains manur'd with care
Refuse the plants of every soil to bear;
What though no olive grow among her vales,
No citron groves perfume her balmy gales;
Though India's spicy forests are denied,
Nor spreads Judea's palm her leafy pride;
Yet her thick woods unnumber'd trees produce,
Sacred at once to ornament and use.
With verdant beech her towering hills are spread,
And Scotia's pine erects her gloomy head;
The shapely fir, that graced Olympus' brow,
Deigns o'er her heights to wave her silver bough;
And, holy Lebanon, thy cedars rise,
Hang o'er her cliffs, nor dread her northern skies;
The elm, and pliant ash, a vigorous train,
Deck with resplendent green the smiling plain;
The bending willow o'er the marshy glade
And shining poplar shed a trembling shade;
And many a hardy plant is wafted o'er,
To grace her forests from the Atlantic shore,
Whose branches, rising from the kindred soil,
Mix with her trees, and pay the planter's toil.
Here too, matur'd by many rolling years,
Above the rest her native oak appears;
Whose giant limbs extend her noblest boast,
Pride of her groves, and bulwark of her coast.
Sure when the Druid train with awful rite
In pious orgies past the dreary night;
While, as their steps the hallow'd trunk surround,
The mystic misletoe their foreheads bound;
They meant to teach their sons succeeding race,
To venerate the groves that deck'd the place.
O ever on Britannia's grateful breast,
Unhurt by time, this image be impress'd!
Still may her heart that sacred tree adore,
Which drives Invasion from her peaceful shore:
So shall each storm of war, whose fatal sway
Speeds o'er her neighbouring realms it's bloody way,
Break like the baffled storm against her coast,
It's force unheeded, and it's fury lost;
As her own oak defies the headlong course
Of warring winds, and mocks the tempest's force.
Nor does fair Albion view with envious eye
The ripe productions of a southern sky.
Let the rich vineyard spread it's purple stores
O'er Gallia's coasts, and Lusitania's shores;
Where with hard hands the tawny peasants press
The swelling grape, a foreign board to bless:
Though 'neath our rougher heaven the docile vine
Around the lofty elm refuse to twine,
Yet has Pomona with no niggard hand
Her blushing orchards scatter'd o'er the land;
Whose ruddy fruits a generous stream produce
Strong as the cluster'd grape's inspiring juice.
Our humble vales the hop's green tendrils grace,
Clasping their stays in many a close embrace;
These to the bearded barley's harvest join'd,
By skill concocted, and with care refin'd,
A liquor yield, that Britain's sons draw forth
Mantling, and bright, the vintage of the north!
Which crowns the humble and the haughty board,
And chears alike the Peasant and the Lord;
Regales o'erwearied Labor at his toil,
And teaches fainting Industry to smile.
The thankful swain beholds the goblet shine,
Nor envies other lands their rosy wine,
Where slavish hinds with skilful hands prepare
The luscious beverage, which they must not share.
Refresh'd with this, Britannia's sons sustain
The keenest labors of the toilsome plain;
Nor, when the hours of work are past, employ
The vacant eve in gay luxurious joy,
Trill the loose air, or beat the echoing ground
To the soft flute, or tabor's sprightly sound;
But with knit limbs on rougher pastime bent,
They strain their sinews to their full extent;
Direct the quoit, or hurl the massy bar,
Or wage with brawny arms the sportive war.
In other realms, to humble swains unknown,
While Honor fires Nobility alone,
Our meanest Peasants share the generous flame,
And learn to glow at Freedom's hallow'd name;
Hence have they, led by Glory's call afar,
With hosts unnumber'd wag'd the unequal war;
Hence Cressy's field, Poitier's victorious fray;
Hence glorious Agincourt, thy wonderous day!
Hence Europe sav'd near Danube's distant flood;
And Blenheim's ramparts red with Gallic blood!
And hence those manly deeds renew'd again
On Abraham's heights, and Minden's trophied plain.
O ne'er may fell Corruption's tainting force
Poison of all our pride this happy source!
To false Refinement with destructive pains
Polish the manly roughness of our swains!
Exil'd from other realms, while here alone
Fair Liberty erects her holy throne,
The exulting train, her glorious gifts who share,
Will scorn of foreign crowds the suppliant air:
Who sees our clowns obsequious, sees the day
That gives our Glory and our Rights away.
In vain would laws guard Freedom's sacred shrine,
If Freedom's sons their native worth resign;
In vain shall Fraud attempt, or Force alarm,
While Valor steels the breast, and Labor nerves the arm.
Faringdon Hill. Book Ii
The sultry hours are past, and Phœbus now
Spreads yellower rays along the mountain's brow:
The broken clouds unnumber'd tints display,
Drinking the effulgence of departing day;
And to our eyes present a radiant view,
Italia's purpled ether never knew.
The eastern prospect now attracts the sight
Where every shrub reflects the setting light:
With ruddy flash the cottage casement gleams,
And shines the waving wood with golden beams.
Where Isis stream divides yon distant glade,
Lo Nuneham rises 'midst the sombre shade;
While at her feet, as the clear current bends,
The lofty spire of Abingdon ascends.
Hygeia and her Oread train inhale
On Radley's site the pure ethereal gale.
On Cherbury's ramparts, urg'd by peaceful toil,
The shining plowshare turns the fruitful soil,
Where erst the peasant saw with anxious fear
The gleaming falchion and protended spear.
On Hinton's verdant brow the lofty trees
Tremble obedient to the evening breeze:
And Pusey her inverted dome surveys,
In the smooth stream that through her meadows strays.
See Buckland here her lovely scenes display,
Which rude e'er while in rich disorder lay,
Till Taste and Genius with corrective hand
Spread culture's nicest vesture o'er the land,
Rang'd every object in it's fairest light,
And call'd each latent beauty to the sight;
Cloth'd the declining slope with pendant wood,
And o'er the sedge-grown meadow pour'd the flood,
While manly Execution's active arm
Wakes to existence each ideal charm.
In the deep gloom of yon impervious bowers,
There Carswell hides her hospitable towers:
And at our feet where the rich pastures spread,
Lo Wadley rears her renovated head,
As art and active labor, join'd, improve
Each fair extended lawn and rising grove,
New scenes unfolding still on every side
Declare the affluence industry supply'd.
Blush! blush, ye sons of power! who proudly stand
Rich in the ruins of your native land;
Who every virtue, every right have sold,
For royal smiles, or ministerial gold;
Proud on your breasts a glittering badge to bear,
True honor hates, and freedom scorns to wear,
If worth, or shewn in peace, or prov'd in war,
Shed not a livelier lustre than the star?
Blush, ye fell race! who cross'd the briny flood,
Foes to mankind! and prodigal of blood!
With wanton rage to waft pale famine o'er
From Albion's cliffs to sad Bengala's shore:
Where starving myriads on the cruel train
Call'd Justice' awful sword, but call'd in vain;
Till Britain's senate, fir'd with patriot flame,
Resolv'd to vindicate her country's fame,
Bade England's laws to Ganges' banks extend,
And equal rule the Indian's life defend.
Though Grecia's orders grace your marble dome,
Though blooms the fairest landscape where ye roam,
Yet sacred Justice shall your seats pervade,
And Conscience haunt you through the deepest shade:
Whilst him whose wealth the arts of Commerce raise,
Mankind shall honor, and the Muse shall praise.
But if like thine, O Charles! his generous heart,
The smiles of fortune to his friends impart;
If heaven, that gave him affluence, gave him too
A soul to every social duty true;
Virtue with joy shall chant his favor'd name,
And give a wreath beyond the power of fame;
While all who know his worth exulting find
That fortune, blessing him, has blest mankind.
Lo Shellingford, an Stanford, 'midst the train
Of hoary trees that skirt yon level plain,
The lofty tower and pointed spire display
Conspicuous, glittering in the western ray:
And on yon hill it's distant head that rears,
Lockinge aloft thy shining dome appears!
Beneath, what woodland nymph with artful hand
The vaulted grotto's sparry roof has plann'd,
Taught the rude arch with pendant ore to shine,
And rang'd each bright production of the mine?
No sylvan Goddess this retreat can claim,
Form'd by the fancy of a mortal dame;
Who from yon humble vale's irriguous bed
To the high cliff the crystal fountain led;
Thence bade in murmurs soft the lucid wave
Pour it's fair current through the craggy cave;
Where every Naiad 'midst the rocks reclin'd,
Approves what Taste and Wymondesold design'd.
Ye envious trees! why does your leafy pride,
Stretch'd o'er the bending valley, Wantage hide?—
Sure every Muse and every Grace will join
With votive hands the fairest wreath to twine;
Cull with assiduous toil the choicest flowers,
And hang the brightest garland on her towers:
While grateful Liberty shall love the shade,
Her guardian chief where fostering Virtue laid;
And Britain's Genius bless the hallow'd earth
Which gave her patriot king, her Alfred, birth.
That equal laws these happy regions share
Springs, Prince benign! from thy paternal care.
Through the dark mists which Error o'er mankind
Tenfold had spread, and wrap'd the human mind;
At thy command fair Science shot her light,
And chas'd the horrid gloom of Gothic night;
To Isis' brink the wandering Muses led,
And taught each drooping art to lift her head:
Hence with the warrior laurel's blood-stain'd bough
That binds with sacred wreath thy conquering brow,
Wisdom's illustrious Goddess interweaves
With mystic hand her olive's peaceful leaves.
Thine is the gift that here no alien crew,
To venal interest more than justice true,
Judge with unpitying eye misfortune's cause,
With cruel power enforcing cruel laws;
But watchful Themis o'er each freeman rears
That sacred shield, the judgment of his peers,
By which protected Britain's dauntless train
See factions rage, and tyrants frown, in vain.
O dear-bought Freedom! if thy holy flame
Burns in our souls, nor rests an empty name;
If for thy sake the kindling warmth we feel
Unwarp'd by selfish views or party zeal;
May we with wakeful, nay with jealous, eye
Regard this hallow'd source of Liberty;
This once attack'd, on which her rights depend,
May every breast the guardian power defend;
Each patriot tongue assert our injur'd laws,
And pour resistless sounds in Freedom's cause;
Each patriot arm, should eloquence be vain,
Lift the dread falchion on the embattled plain;
May we with more than ancient zeal pursue
Rights, Rome and boasted Athens never knew;
Guard this Palladium with our latest breath,
Or perish with it in a glorious death!
Where from the fertile plains yon hills arise,
Quit the low vales and shoot into the skies,
Carv'd rudely on the pendant sod, is seen
The snow-white courser stretching o'er the green:
The antique figure scan with curious eye,
The glorious monument of victory!
There England rear'd her long dejected head,
There Alfred triumph'd, and invasion bled.
Long had proud Denmark stretch'd the iron hand
Of harsh oppression o'er the groaning land;
The freeborn swains, to mean subjection broke,
In silent sorrow bore the opprobrious yoke:
Their virtuous prince to wilds and forests driven,
No shed to screen him from the inclement heaven,
Hears all around his subjects cries ascend,
And sees them sink unable to defend;
Chas'd by his foes disguis'd he treads the plain,
A wretched exile in his own domain!
Much hardship borne, and many dangers past,
On suffering Virtue Fortune smiles at last:
Arous'd to vengeance by his people's woe
He frowns defiance on the insulting foe;
Leaves every fear and every doubt behind.—
High waves the Saxon banner to the wind!
Fir'd at the sight, the country far and wide
Pours forth her veteran sons on every side;
His trusty bow each hardy yeoman draws,
Or lifts his shining brand in Freedom's cause:
Freedom resounds from each determin'd voice,
Freedom the first, and death the second, choice;
Courage and Conquest o'er their helmets play;
The invader trembled at the dread array;
Onward resistless march'd the impetuous host;
And fell Oppression fled the hostile coast:
The exulting steed in conquering standards flies,
While Denmark's raven screaming quits the skies;
And hence the Victor's jocund hands portray'd
The Saxon ensign on yon verdant glade.
His country freed, discerning Alfred saw
How vain the civil bond of social law;
Of crowds untrain'd how weak the hasty aid,
When force prevails, and barbarous hosts invade.
That policy which guards each modern throne
Was then to Europe's bounded kings unknown;
No artful statesman then with treacherous breast
Arm'd half a people to enslave the rest.
With wiser care a rampart firm he plann'd,
To guard from future foes the happy land,
Bade Liberty her rash assailants brave,
And Freemen vindicate what Freedom gave.
He taught each sturdy laborer of the field
The sickle and the sword by turns to wield:
With chearful industry the generous swains
Till for their wealthy lords the peaceful plains;
Or, rous'd from rural toil by war's alarms,
Beneath their well-known banners rush to arms.
Let other realms where Freedom never smil'd,
O'eraw'd by rigor, or by fraud beguil'd,
See mercenary bands surround the throne,
Or safety seek from alien arms alone:
But shall not England blush for every son
Too proud to guard the rights his sires have won?
Rights, in whose cause full many a warrior stood,
By toil obtain'd, and seal'd with patriot blood!
Though envy frown, though venal millions blame,
Shall she not ever love her Chatham's name,
Who while on distant climes her rage he pour'd,
Prudent at home this best defence restor'd;
Her manly sons array'd with parent care,
Arous'd once more her manly youth to war,
And bade her breezy hills, and fruitful plains,
Send forth in arms again their native swains.
Lives there a man in this exulting isle,
Who sees our orchards bloom, our harvests smile,
Who every breath in perfect freedom draws,
His rights protected by the noblest laws;
Would wish to break the fence by wisdom plann'd,
And wrest the sword from every freeman's hand,
Wish to behold our bare defenceless coasts
Unarm'd, or guarded but by foreign hosts?
Dare thy strong powers O Eloquence employ!
This best internal bulwark to destroy?—
Though every guile of specious Fraud he use,
'Mid listening crowds his Poison to infuse;
Try every Wile his curs'd Designs to hide:—
Superior Truth his Cunning shall deride,
Shall tear each paltry mean Disguise away,
Expose his Rancor to the face of day;
His selfish Views to all mankind impart,
And shew the Traitor graven on his heart.
Now turn your eyes and from the mountain's brow
Direct them to the cultur'd vale below;
How rich the spacious plains that stretch between!
How ripe the harvests, and the meads how green!
The herds in myriads o'er the pastures throng;
And mingled lowings break each rural song.
Where e'er with patient care the laborer's hand
Guides the sharp plow-share through the fertile land,
The farmers see the produce crown their toil,
Eye the rich scene, and bless the happy soil.
Soon shall the yellow wealth whose swelling grains
The stalk low bending hardly now sustains,
Stor'd in the barn with jocund labor, yield
To every rural sport the uncumber'd field.
The pointer then shall o'er the stubbled vale
Range unconfin'd, and catch the tainted gale:
The hound's quick scent, or greyhound's eager view,
O'er the smooth plain the timid hare pursue;
Then swelling on the burthen'd breeze afar,
Shall burst the tumult of the woodland war;
While rush the daring youth with breathless speed
To see the wily fox unpity'd bleed.
Let not the Muse the active toil despise,
Or from the chace avert her angry eyes:
Though gentle Shenstone deem'd the hunter's throat
Drown'd with it's clamorous strain the lyric note:
Though pensive Thomson, indolently laid
Beneath the silver willows trembling shade,
Baiting with cruel art the treacherous hook,
To lure the guiltless inmates of the brook,
Blame, as his hands the barbed weapon draw
From the mute wretches agonizing jaw,
Those, who in manly sport with frantic joy
The rapid tenants of the wood destroy:
Yet has the warbling lyre in many a strain
Describ'd the active pleasures of the plain.
The moral bard of Windsor's royal groves
Sings of the hunter, and his toil approves;
Even he, whose verse to mortal eyes has given
The wrath of angels, and the wars of heaven,
Joyful has listen'd to the hounds, and horn,
Rousing with chearful peal the slumbering morn:
Nor shall with brow averse the rural Muse
To Somerville the Poet's meed refuse,
Whose skilful notes each sylvan pastime trace,
And teach the various mazes of the chace;
Whence livelier thoughts and lighter spirits rise,
Strength knits the limbs and courage fires the eyes,
Glows in the ruddy cheek a purer blood,
And rolls the tide of life a sprightlier flood.
Propitious now on Britain's favor'd isle
Though white-rob'd Peace and jocund Plenty smile;
Though while her wrath on hostile shores is hurl'd,
Unhurt she sits amidst a warring world;
Say, have the tranquil scenes which now we see
Been ever such, and must they ever be?
Ah! may not Civil Discord stalk again
With bloody footsteps o'er her ravag'd plain?
Or fell invasion waste her fenceless coast,
Her guardian Fleet by adverse tempests toss'd?
Then, if our country's bleeding breast demands
The aid of dauntless breasts, and ready hands,
To the stout race who haunt the hill and dale
Will nothing then the hunter's toil avail?—
While round her feeble votary's drooping brow
What verdant wreaths shall letter'd sloth bestow?
In vain may Patriot Zeal the bosom warm,
If pale disease unnerve the willing arm:
While the bold youth whose hardy frame defies
The force of fighting winds and angry skies;
Who braving winter's rage pursues the chace,
The sleety tempest rattling in his face;
Or when the dog-star shoots his sultry rays,
Rages unconquer'd by the scorching blaze;
Shall, if he lead Britannia's rustic train,
To the dread conflict of some bloody plain,
Shrink not, though summer suns their beams unfold,
Or biting frosts intensely pierce with cold,
But Freedom's call with stedfast march pursue
Through noontide's sultry heat, or midnight's chilling dew.
Too much the enervate bards of modern days
Attune to slothful ease their moral lays;
The seats of ancient lore their favorite theme,
Lyceum's shade, and hoary Academe;
Forgetful that the stadium's hardy toil,
The boxer's cæstus, and the wrestler's oil,
Sent Grecia's heroes forth a vigorous train,
Learn'd in the schools and victors on the plain.
The Athenian sage, his Country's pride and shame,
Is known to martial, as to letter'd, fame;
Now did he sooth with truth's divine behest,
Young Alcibiades, thy fervent breast,
Now through the paths of war thy steps he led,
And rear'd his guardian buckler o'er thy head,
And he, whose mind with active virtue fraught,
Practis'd each lesson that his master taught,
Not satisfied of love divine to dream,
By the still margin of Ilissus' stream,
Or in warm Fancy's vivid tints to draw
Ideal forms of Polity and Law;
The illustrious Chief who led his glorious band
O'er barren rocks, and deserts black with sand,
Still undismay'd amid surrounding woes,
Still scattering terror on unnumber'd foes.
Learn'd 'midst the echoing forests to sustain
The toils of war and all her horrid train;
Then taught, descending to the embattled field,
Barbarian rage and Persian wiles to yield.
Let Luxury's vain sons with careless pride
The votaries firm of manly toil deride,
Wrap'd in inglorious sloth, let them despise
The noble thirst of glorious enterprise.
But shall the Muse, whose hand should point the road
Which leads o'er rugged steeps to fame's abode;
Whose voice should loudly chant each Hero's name,
To wake in other minds a kindred flame?—
Shall she inglorious now in siren lays
Lavish on harmless Indolence her praise;
Damp the strong flame that warms the noble breast,
And hush each generous passion into rest?
Shall she to those alone confine the song,
Who creep obscure life's tranquil vale along,
And blame the dauntless few who dare explore
The dangerous rocks of bold Ambition's shore;
Who tempt with venturous prow life's stormy seas,
And toil themselves to buy for others ease;
Unaw'd by tyrant power, or factious hate,
Who tread with blameless feet the paths of state;
Or pluck bight honor's sacred meed afar,
Undaunted, from the frowning front of war?
Well may with pious hand the indignant Muse
To many a Victor's brow the wreath refuse,
Well may she tear the laurel vainly spread
O'er many a King's and many a Warrior's head;
And curse a Cæsar's or a Cromwell's name,
Though erring myriads call their ravage fame.
But shall not they who conquer, or who die,
In the great strife of injur'd Liberty,
A tribute from the peaceful bard expect,
Sung by those Muses whom their swords protect?
Say cannot Greece and Rome their warriors bring,
To whom even Virtue's hand might strike the string?
Say cannot Albion, 'mongst whose sons we find
All that exalts and dignifies mankind;
Say cannot she afford such themes of praise
As well might grace the poet's chastest lays?
She can!—she can!—Her Alfred planning laws,
Her Godlike Hambden bleeding in their cause;
Guiding with uncorrupted hands the state
Her Walsingham in scorn of fortune great;
Her gallant Wolfe triumphant even in death,
While weeping Victory caught his parting breath;
Her Hawke, whose ardor rocks nor shoals could bar,
Nor the dread rage of elemental war,
While his bold fleet the Gaul's design explores,
Destroys his navy, and insults his shores;
Are themes whose force the coldest bard may fire,
To call forth rapture from his sounding lyre,
While Truth shall listen to the warbling strings,
And Reason vindicate what Fancy sings.
Enough, rash Muse! tempt not the arduous height
Which asks the Epic or Pindaric flight:
To the fair vale again reduce the lay,
Ere envious twilight snatch the scene away;
For evening's shades with deepening tint prevail,
And darkness soon shall wrap the misty dale.
Here Coleshill's towers demand their share of fame,
Proud of their site, and their great Artist's name;
There, shelter'd from the storm by bowering trees,
The milder charms of verdant Becket please.
What though her level lawn nor sinks, nor swells,
Forms rising hills, or hollow-winding dells;
Yet every friend to genuine taste, who roves
Or by her shining lakes or through her groves,
Shall see a Grace in every solemn shade,
And own that Beauty crowns each watery glade.
Let Taste capricious strive to charm the heart
With all the nice perplexities of art,
With toil immense a sickly scene produce
Trifling in ornament as void of use,
Bid Britain's hills Arabia's sweets perfume,
Bid in our vales Sabæan roses bloom,
Bid summer's fruits 'mid winter's frosts appear,
Force stubborn Nature and invert the year.
To blend utility with each design
The nobler praise, O Barrington! be thine;
The smooth canal whose ample sheet supplies
Food for the board, and pleasure to the eyes,
O'er the morass in shining volumes laid
Drains the moist surface of the rushy glade,
And where the marsh and frequent slough impede
The shatter'd carriage, and the floundering steed,
There the firm causeys form'd by useful care
O'er the deep vale the thankful traveller bear.
Contract the prospect now, and mark more near
Fair Faringdon her humble turret rear,
Where once the tapering spire conspicuous grew,
Till civil strife the sacred pile o'erthrew:
For as on hapless Stuart's ruin bent,
Against yon walls their lord his thunder sent,
And led with ruthless rage the hostile train,
While his own weeping Lares plead in vain;
The balls invade, with erring fury driven,
The hallow'd structure consecrate to heaven.
Such is alas the baleful fruit that springs
From factious subjects and oppressive kings!
Beneath yon roof by the cold pavement press'd,
My peaceful sires in solemn silence rest.—
Imagination flags her pinions here,
And o'er the marble drops the filial tear;
Here too the Muse prepares the votive verse,
The mournful tribute to a Parent's herse;—
O sacred Name! by every tie endear'd!
Lov'd by your friends, by all who knew rever'd.
How well you bore, to Freedom ever just,
This fertile County's delegated Trust,
The British Senate saw, when firm you stood,
Firm to fair Virtue, and your Country's good;
Friend to the worth from Patriot Zeal that springs,
No dupe to Faction, and no Slave to Kings.
How far your private merits could extend,
How kind a Father, and how warm a Friend,
My faultering voice would strive to sing in vain,
For gushing tears would choke the imperfect strain;
The force of words unequal to impart
The strong sensations of my heaving heart.
Here ever slumbering with the silent dead,
Thy daughter, glorious Hambden! rests her head.
Ah cruel mother! say, why does not here
Thy youthful Hambden press his early bier?
Why does no storied urn his worth proclaim,
Who shar'd his grandsire's virtues with his name?—
Untimely on a distant shore he died,
The wretched victim of a parent's pride.
Ye mourning Loves and Graces, aid the verse,
While I in plaintive notes his woes rehearse;
To these his native fields his wrongs relate,
The hapless story of a Lover's fate.
His youthful form could boast each manly grace,
Health strung his nerves, and beauty deck'd his face;
Ingenuous shame, and truth that scorns disguise,
Glow in his cheek, and sparkle in his eyes:
But ah! when manhood now with genial ray
Began to call his virtues into day,
Love! all controling Love! whose fatal power
Spares the rank weed to crop the blushing flower,
Nip'd all his ripening graces in their bloom,
And early mark'd his merits for the tomb.
An aged swain, whose lowly cottage stood
Where 'midst the valley spreads yon rising wood,
A lovely daughter had, whose matchless form
The frozen heart of sapless age might warm:
With falling snow her polish'd skin could vie,
Her lips the coral sham'd, the jet her eye:
There love and modesty united speak,
And opening roses paint her glowing cheek;
The soft redundance of her hair behind
Flow'd loose, and careless wanton'd in the wind;
Such powerful charms the youthful Hambden fire,
He saw perfection, and he felt desire:
The growing passion every thought employs,
Disturbs his peace, and poisons all his joys.
Maria's image ever in his breast
His daily ease destroys and nightly rest;
From his wan cheek the lively crimson flies,
And smiling health forsakes his sinking eyes:
No more his well-breath'd hounds, at early dawn
Ranging, dash eager o'er the dewy lawn;
Now sad he wanders through the sylvan glades,
And sighs responsive to the lonesome shades,
Each Echo answers to his mournful tale,
And pensive numbers float on every gale.
But, as increasing Love resistless grew,
From his torn bosom vanquish'd Prudence flew;
To fair Maria's feet he sighing came,
Confess'd her empire and avow'd his flame;
Soon his soft words the beauteous virgin move,
And secret Hymen crown'd his eager love.
Now peace and happiness appear to spread
Their flattering pinions o'er his favor'd head;
Love every joy and every charm supplies,
And marks each golden moment as it flies.
Ah hapless pair! the short-liv'd bliss enjoy,
Soon shall impending clouds your calm destroy;
Even now, with more than mortal vengeance red,
The tempest bursts on each devoted head.
Ten quick-revolving moons had roll'd away,
And smiling transport crown'd each happy day;
When various symptoms to the world disclose
Maria soon must feel a mother's throes:
The busy neighbours round the tale proclaim,
And scowling Envy triumphs in her shame.
At length the generous youth, distress'd to hear
Each clownish tongue her reputation tear,
Throws with indignant scorn the veil aside,
And owns the fair Maria for his bride.
Soon as his cruel mother heard the tale,
Swift grows her cheek with trembling anger pale;
In vain his youth, in vain her beauties plead,
Instant revenge pursues the imprudent deed;
No worth could please to peasants when allied,
No charms disarm the force of female pride.—
Say did thy Father such distinctions find,
Amidst the equal race of human kind,
When his keen sword he drew in Freedom's cause,
And bled to vindicate her trampled laws?
While rage and hate the ruthless matron fire,
She bears the fatal tidings to his sire,
Tries every art a father's wrath to move,
Awake his vengeance, and subdue his love.
With savage cruelty they now divide
The hapless Hambden from his weeping bride:
She rends her hair, and beats her breast in vain,
Torn from her arms he seeks the distant main.
It chanc'd that Britain's hardy sons prepare
To pour on haughty Spain their naval war.—
Brief let me be, the winds propitious blew,
Proud o'er the waves the gallant navy flew;
Britain aloft her bloody ensign spread,
Iberia saw, she trembled, and she fled;
While her resistless foes exulting bore
The spoils of India to their native shore.—
Ah gallant youth! nor native shore, nor friend,
Shall e'er to thee their welcome sight extend;
Far on a hostile coast thy body lies,
Wash'd by rude waves, or scorch'd by sultry skies.
When sad Maria heard the tale of woe,
From her full eyes no gushing torrents flow;
No current gives her burthen'd breast relief,
But pale she sullen sits in silent grief;
Till her heart bursting with redoubled sighs,
She calls her much lov'd Hambden's name, and dies.
The haughty parents, then alas too late!
Mourn their unhappy son's disastrous fate;
Grieve for the woes their fatal rage supply'd,
Tear their gray locks, and curse their foolish pride;
Pour tears of anguish o'er Maria's grave,
And weep the victims they refus'd to save.
Turn from these solemn scenes the averted head,
The awful mansions of the silent dead!
To where the green-rob'd Dryads joyful rove
'Midst the thick foliage of yon echoing grove.—
Ah blissful seats! beneath whose pleasing shade
My Childhood and my Youth delighted stray'd;
Here first my eyes beheld the gems that shine
Bright and resplendent from the classic mine;
While as I gaz'd my youthful bosom glow'd,
And from my tongue untutor'd numbers flow'd.
Here far from every selfish passion's reach,
Which the world's dangerous school will often teach,
I pour'd to real Love one artless tear,
And breath'd at Friendship's shrine the vow sincere.
The Muses here their grateful offerings pay,
And dedicate to you their closing lay;
Nor ask a brighter wreath to grace their song,
Than verdant grows these waving woods among.
Blest, happy Regions! seats of joy and ease!
Which still have pleas'd me, and must ever please;
Should e'er a Tyrant's Sway, or Faction's Roar,
Drive Liberty from this her native shore;
Though following her, I'd rather friendless go
Through Afric's burning wastes, or Zembla's snow,
Than haunt these much-lov'd shades and favorite springs,
Robb'd of the joys that independence brings:
Yet should I wander to a fairer plain
Than thought can paint, or youthful fancy feign;
Still should I load with sighs the reckless wind,
Still weep those darling scenes I left behind.
If this be weakness! from my beating heart
O never!—never! may that weakness part!—
Let the proud Stoic with disdainful eyes
The thought of local prejudice despise,
And boast in every soil and every air
Where Virtue florishes, his country there;
But ask the generous train whose bosoms beat
With gentle feelings, as with patriot heat;
Would not to see each long-frequented shade
Low on the earth by hostile vengeance laid,
On Albion's desolated fields to gaze,
See her towers fall, her splendid cities blaze;
Though every friend had left the ruin'd coast,
And weeping Freedom mourn'd her empire lost,
Still with new rage their kindling breasts inspire,
And bid their bosoms glow with fiercer fire.
But far from us such sad events shall be,
If aught the Muse prophetic can foresee;
Still Peace and heavenly Liberty shall smile,
With wonted sweetness on their long-lov'd isle;
Pale Tyranny avoid the hostile shore,
And Faction lift her scorpion scourge no more;
Each freeborn swain still reap with thankful hand,
Secure from wrongs, the produce of his land:
And lovely Faringdon! my voice shall still
Or in thy groves, or on this healthful hill,
In rustic numbers sing the happy plains,
Where Freedom triumphs, and where Brunswick reigns.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part I.
As when the stream by casual fountains fed
First gushes from the cavern's mossy bed,
Dashing from rock to rock, the scanty rill
With no luxuriant herbage clothes the hill;
Yet when increas'd the ampler current flows,
Each bordering mead with deeper verdure glows,
It's lingering waves through painted vallies glide,
And Health and Plenty deck it's verdant side;
Till swell'd by wintry storms and sweeping rains,
If chance it's rising deluge drown the plains,
The stagnate waters choke the sedgy soil,
And the fond hopes of future harvests foil:
So first Refinement in it's infant hour
Sheds o'er the savage tribe an useless power,
Nor can it's feeble energy impart
Or grace or softness to the human heart;
But when in Reason's moderate bounds confin'd
It's plenteous streams invigorate the mind,
The rising Arts their genial influence share,
And all the social Virtues flourish there;
Till Luxury's polluting torrents roll
A flood destructive o'er the enervate soul,
And to the flowers of generous growth succeeds
The baneful progeny of Vice's weeds.
Man, ere by rules of civil compact taught,
(Uncouth his form, and unimprov'd his thought,)
O'er the rude waste a selfish savage goes,
Nor mutual cares, nor mutual kindness knows,
How to subsist his Being's sole employ,
Strength all his art, and rapine all his joy;
And where a steril soil, and frowning heaven,
Are to his race by ruthless Nature given,
Compell'd by chace his scanty food to gain,
Pierc'd by sharp winds, or drench'd by chilling rain,
While from the assailing climate, rigid grown,
The alter'd fibres lose each nicer tone,
Long is the torpid soul by want oppress'd,
And dawning Reason slowly lights the breast.
But when his milder, happier portion, lies
In kindly regions, and more genial skies,
Where balmy sweets the ambient gales dispense,
And native Luxury enchants the sense,
Where Earth disdaining cultivation's care
Bids her free sons the luscious banquet share,
And the thick groves a roof sufficient spread
To shield from dews and heat the slumbering head;
Press'd by no want, in leisure's vacant hours
The expanding Mind perceives her latent powers,
And from the silken air the nerves derive,
To each sensation tremblingly alive,
Pleasures uncheck'd by labor's stern control,
And bear each finer feeling to the soul.
Then as reclining on the fertile soil,
Unknown the want of culture's stubborn toil,
His grazing charge the gentle herdsman tends,
And o'er the vale his eye delighted bends,
Ten thousand lovely images suggest
The dreams of Fancy to his tranquil breast,
The female form his soften'd heart inspires
With milder thoughts and more refin'd desires,
Sweet notes of rural courtship fill the grove,
And flow the tender strains of pastoral love:
Or as his eyes the nightly ether view,
And trace the heavenly concave's cloudless blue,
He learns to know what different signs appear
To guide and regulate the varied year;
Observes the changeful Moon alternate show
Her orb full-beaming, and her waning bow,
And marks the inferior Planets as they roll
In stated periods round the shining pole.
Hence every charm that polish'd Nature knows,
All that eludes or weakens human woes
First dawn'd in regions where the solar beam
Pours with superior force the effulgent stream,
And to our view the infant Arts arise
Beneath the warmth of Asia's fostering skies,
Or on Arabia's happier coasts inhale,
Loaded with sweets, the aromatic gale,
Or with attentive ear the fables learn
Of mystic lore, by Nile's redundant urn;
Till gently wafted by the favoring breeze
O'er the smooth surface of Ionian seas,
The smiling train their lovely offspring bore
To rise and flourish on the Grecian shore.
Inventive Fancy emulous to raise
For Worth deceas'd the monument of praise,
To bid Fame live beyond this transient breath,
And snatch heroic deeds from icy death,
With filial love the frail memorial rear'd,
And the heap'd fragment mark'd the tomb rever'd:
But vain the pious care!—Oblivion's sway
Soon swept each undistinguish'd name away,
The story of renown no breast retains,
And unexplain'd the mouldering pile remains.
Then ripening Genius sought the Muses aid,
And rustic Verse it's opening powers display'd;
Though no soft grace of polish'd diction shine,
Though harsh the cadence, and though rude the line,
Yet strengthen'd Memory felt the useful art
That fix'd the favorite legend in the heart;
The hoary Sage the sure advantage saw,
And in rough strains promulg'd his simple law,
In the short verse the moral rule compress'd,
And early form'd to truth the docile breast.
The infant warblings of the Muses lyre
Subdue the will perverse, and passion dire;
Their gloomy wilds the savage race forsook
As Orpheus sung, and milder manners took,
And charm'd to order by Amphion's lay
The forms of civil life mankind obey.
As bursts the beam of day through clouded skies
At length with light ethereal Letters rise,
To chain the fleeting sound their magic taught,
Portray'd the Idea, and embodied thought;
Blest, happiest, privilege to mortals given!
Which wings the aspiring soul from Earth to Heaven.
Whether progressive skill the art acquir'd,
Or power divine the sacred gift inspir'd;
Whether a mere invention of the Mind
As opening Science civiliz'd mankind,
Or a peculiar mark of heavenly grace
At first bestow'd on Israel's favor'd race
Though Reason doubt;—from morn to setting day
The various tribes of human-kind survey,
And own that all who following Wisdom's plan
Fulfil those duties that distinguish Man;
All who extend their penetrating sight
Beyond the reach of animal delight,
This blessing from one common fountain share,
Though ting'd with ignorance, or refin'd by care:
Even Greece where letter'd Science prosper'd best
It's oriental origin confess'd,
Fix'd by the fabled Author Asia's claim,
And mark'd it's source by Cadmus' mystic name.
As the ripe feed when sown with skilful toil
Soon feels the influence of a friendly soil,
With rapid shoots the planter's care repays,
And high in air it's waving boughs displays;
So Greece beheld the ingenuous Arts expand
In her congenial air, and kindly land,
While Freedom by the insulting despot driven
From Southern climes, and Asia's warmer heaven,
Fix'd with delight her European throne
Oe'r favor'd realms, and regions all her own.
Cheer'd by her sway each slumbering Muse awakes,
And from her smiles superior vigor takes:
Now Poesy with animating fire
Throws her bold fingers o'er the Epic wire,
And Lyric Extasy exulting sings
Borne on the Theban eagle's towering wings,
While the chaste Drama rising by degrees,
By care successive polish'd, learns to please,
From the rude outlines of the mimic art
First shewn by Thespis in his wandering cart,
To the fam'd Bards whose labor'd scenes engage
The dumb attention of the Attic stage.
Soon every Science, every Art succeeds,
Happy to follow where a Sister leads.
Charm'd from her seats on Egypt's watery plain,
And freed from fabling Error's mystic chain,
Through the still gloom of Academus' shade
Philosophy with solemn footstep stray'd;
Bold Imitation still to Nature true
The perfect form from perfect models drew,
For ne'er were equall'd Grecia's lovely race
Or for the faultless shape, or beauteous face.
Music devoid of each capricious art
Touch'd with her sweetest melody the heart:
And Architecture plann'd, in awful state
The Dome with just proportion simply great,
Or nobly plain the Doric pile appear'd,
Or her light column soft Ionia rear'd,
Or Corinth bade her polish'd Temples rise
With ornamental grandeur to the skies.
With force united this illustrious train
Grac'd the loud forum, and the holy fane,
But chiefly were their magic charms combin'd
When the lov'd Drama fix'd the Athenian mind:
Whether the drops of generous pity spring
At the sad fate of Thebes' unhappy King,
Or glows the exulting heart with patriot flame
To hear the tale of Grecia's ancient fame,
On this delightful source of virtuous joy
The lavish Arts their choicest skill employ,
And all their various powers at once convene
To dress in gorgeous pomp the attractive scene.
Encourag'd thus by Freedom's favoring smiles,
While every Muse the listening ear beguiles,
While Wisdom grave, and polish'd Grace combine,
At once to form the Virtues, and refine,
Improvement spreads to life's more humble cares,
And Industry the happy influence shares:
Down the steep cliff, and o'er the craggy brow
Strong Agriculture drives his laboring plow,
And to the currents of the rising gale
Adventurous Commerce trusts her swelling sail;
To the bleak rock the cultur'd glebe succeeds,
Where waves the harvest and the vintage bleeds,
And the fraught vessel with her woven wings
The wealth of nations to Piræus brings.
Rous'd by those honors cull'd by Glory's hand
To dress the Victor on the Olympic sand,
With active toil each ardent stripling tries
To bind his forehead with the immortal prize;
Hence strength and beauty deck the Grecian race,
And manly labor gives them manly grace.—
Yet while the scenes of Nature and of Art
The perfect forms of elegance impart,
While Wisdom's sacred lore the bosom warms,
And brighter Virtue boasts her moral charms,
The bliss in social intercourse that lies
Unknown they lose, or knowing they despise,
Illiberal folly 'midst their mirth we find,
And savage grossness taints the noblest mind,
The genial board licentious sports beguile,
And sages woo the harlot's venal smile.
For the soft Sex whose mild enchanting power
With gentle pleasure cheers the festal hour,
Denied the banquet's temperate joys to share,
Are the mere drudges made of houshold care;
Hence faint the force of that refin'd desire
Which modest Beauty only can inspire.
To other paths diverted passion turns,
And with enthusiast ardor Friendship burns.—
Far be it from the virgin Muse to try
O'er that mysterious scene to throw her eye.
Enough for her, while every manly breast
She sees in Virtue's purest radiance dress'd,
Sees every heart, with patriot Glory warm,
Check the proud war, or perish in the storm,
To cry like Philip on that fatal plain
Where Victory wept the sacred Thebans slain,
Curs'd be the slanderous tongue that worth like this would stain.
Though some prevailing characters we trace
Through every nation of the Grecian race,
Though Superstition, Manners, Speech, the same,
One common origin to all proclaim;
Though when the different states assembled stood
By Pisa's shades, or fair Castalia's flood,
Where each time-hallow'd rite conspir'd to draw
On the full festival religious awe,
By the mix'd forms of mutual converse taught
The separate tribes congenial features caught;
Yet Greece no general bond of empire found
Which all her sons in one firm compact bound,
But each republic as it's fabric rose
Peculiar laws, peculiar customs chose.
Sparta, where royal power's divided sway
Alternate knew to govern and obey,
Where Kings and People equal rule restrain'd,
And rigid Law the only tyrant reign'd,
Saw grave Politeness spread her sober grace,
And Modesty suffuse the warrior's face:
No subtle reasoning mov'd her steady throng,
But every sentence clear, concise, and strong,
In artless guise the speaker's mind convey'd,
And simple language simple truths display'd:
No Luxury debauch'd her frugal train,
For public glory there, was private gain.
While Athens, where alike with frantic zeal
All aim'd by turns to guide the general weal,
For wide her blessings ample Freedom threw,
And every voice an equal suffrage knew;
Athens' beheld her sons forego their claim,
The substance quitting for the shadowy name,
And noisy Faction at Ambition's call
Usurp'd that empire which belong'd to all,
While specious Demagogues seduced the sense
With all the flowery tropes of eloquence,
And the free audience polish'd, and severe,
Mark'd each oration with a critic ear.
In vain might Prudence raise her warning voice
If soft persuasion won the public choice,
In vain it's aims might patriot care pursue
If one mistaken accent censure drew.
Awaken'd thus to every thrill of joy
While arts of elegance their thoughts employ,
Borne by the tide of eloquence along,
Mov'd by a tale, a fable, or a song,
Of their own delegated powers afraid,
Despising laws by their own suffrage made,
The fickle race impatient of control
Rush headlong onward to Corruption's goal:
What patriot sage to turn the current tries
Is doom'd to exile, or by poison dies,
And him they raise who impudent and loud
Inflames the passions of the giddy croud:
And though Invasion with remorseless hand
Spread flame and carnage o'er the groaning land,
The Theatre employs their sole debate,
And more they prize the Drama than the state:
If the fond scene present some favorite theme,
Lull'd by sweet Fancy's vain delusive dream,
Of Persia check'd and Greece preserv'd they boast
Though conquering Philip ravages their coast,
And Marathon's victorious deeds display
On the dread eve of Chæronea's day.
Of human glory thus how short the date!
Expence and Pride, on Wealth and Freedom wait,
And from her burthen'd lap Profusion throws
The seeds of growing Vice, and future woes.—
The fervent zeal of public spirit dead,
And patriot Virtue's manly influence fled,
The daring bands of freemen who defied
In fields of blood the Median Tyrant's pride,
Purchas'd, betray'd, divided, and o'erthrown,
Bend to a state their sires had hardly known.
Yet Science lov'd to breathe her favorite air,
Though Liberty was fled still linger'd there.
Even of those Chiefs who shar'd the unjust command
Which Philip and his greater son had plann'd,
Some brave descendants felt the Muses charms,
And sooth'd with liberal Arts usurping Arms;
Warm Patronage awhile with partial ray
Supply'd the loss of Freedom's genuine day,
And Genius consecrates to deathless fame
With grateful voice her Philadelphus' name.
Though mad Ambition soon with impious blow
Laid every fence of civil Virtue low,
And sunk in sloth, or petrified by fear,
No daring arm oppos'd her wild career,
Yet ne'er did abject Luxury's domain
O'er Grecia stretch her universal reign,
Or Asiatic Indolence dispense
That blasting torpor to each blunted sense,
Chill'd by whose touch the generous Purpose flies,
Droops Emulation, faded Glory dies,
While the corrupted heart each vice imbibes
That sinks mankind below the bestial tribes.
Religion, Language, Manners, though we find
Give one strong tincture to the Grecian mind,
Yet different Interest each republic draws,
Divided Claims, and independent Laws,
The neighbouring states eternal war alarms,
And ease invaded yields to manlier arms;
Whence strict the rules of discipline remain,
And firm their courage on the embattled plain.
Though by compulsion strong, and stronger art,
Philip could temporary peace impart,
With potent gold a shameful union bought
Which public Wisdom oft had vainly sought,
Short was the race by his Ambition run,
And short the glory of his conquering son;
Then as the spoils of empire to divide
Contending chiefs with impious ardor tried,
And Freedom bade some bolder states unite
To guard with ancient zeal her sacred right,
The doubtful conflict for a time call'd forth
The dormant relics of heroic worth,
Till every weak distinction swept away
By the full tide of Rome's superior sway,
Whate'er the stores of Grecian art supplied,
Serv'd but to swell the happier Victor's pride;
And haughty Luxury asham'd to own
O'er tributary realms a partial throne,
Attends the rising power by Fate design'd
To fix her boundless empire o'er mankind.
Lo! in the regions whence Favonius blows
A hardy race Hesperia's vales disclose:
With sinews firm the rugged offspring rise
And brave the force of less auspicious skies,
For freezing winds had erst Campania known,
And yellow Tiber worn an icy zone.
The sons of Rome ne'er felt the soft control
Of milky kindness stealing o'er the soul,
Nor did their nerves to pleasure's touch awake
Of gentler thoughts the mild impression take;
The rigid texture of their rougher frame
The dangerous glories of the field inflame;
To wage with sure success the bloody fight
Their favorite care, and war their sole delight.
Victors, or vanquish'd, by the example taught
They found new paths to conquest as they fought.
Triumphant Carthage vaunts her powers in vain
And claims the exclusive empire of the main,
Rome to the sea her ductile Genius turns,
And from her foe the means of Victory learns;
Repairs with wiser toil the ruin'd fleet,
And gains superior art from each defeat,
Her naval care with perseverance plies,
Till, by the course of long experience wise,
The watery war her perfect gallies dare,
And Libya's ancient splendor melts to air.
In vain to check these unremitting foes
Their studied Tactics Grecia's sons oppose,
Whose force compelling countless hosts to yield,
With Persia's bleeding Myriads strew'd the field:
The Legions active, disciplin'd, and fierce,
With varied shock the close-wedg'd Phalanx pierce,
And Freedom's noblest sons are doom'd by fate
The servile subjects of a foreign state.
Their country vanquish'd, still the arts remain,
Still learned Athens boasts her polish'd train;
The flowery garlands there they weave to bind
In pleasures roseate wreaths the Roman mind,
The joys of peace the haughty Victors learn,
And Greece exulting triumphs in her turn.
Though first they view with undiscerning eyes
Sculpture's fair grace, and Painting's glowing dyes,
Though Consuls by the piece the marble rate,
And the wrought brass is valu'd by the weight;
Yet soon their hearts the Muses sway confess'd
And powerful numbers sooth'd the warlike breast,
Each swelling bosom caught the generous fire,
And Roman fingers struck the Grecian lyre:
Not with that fierce delight, that sudden glow
Which from the genuine beams of Nature flow,
That burst of Harmony which pour'd along
The full luxuriance of the Epic Song!—
Matur'd by time their ripening Genius rose,
From the harsh lines of Ennius' measur'd prose
To strains on which the Muse enamour'd hung,
And drank each dulcet note from Maro's tongue.
But ne'er shall Imitation's loveliest charm
Like native Grace the raptur'd bosom warm,
This bright and awful as the beam of day,
That like the paler moon's reflected ray.
By no fallacious hues does Nature please,
But boldly gives the manners that she sees,
Not Truth in Fiction's splendid garb arrays,
But with free stroke the living form portrays,
Her Bards divine the real actions sing
Of the stern Hero, or the warrior King,
Or paint the life the amorous Shepherd leads
In the rich verdure of Sicilian meads,
While with the verse their heated Fancy weaves
Each sacred tale Mythology believes:
But Imitation with correcter hand
Fills but the outline that Invention plann'd,
With care retrenches each superfluous part,
Or adds the tinsel ornaments of art,
Describes the manners that she never knew,
And faintly copies what her Mistress drew;
Hence with assiduous step the Latian Muse
The march sublime of elder Greece pursues,
Content to glean with unremitting toil
The scatter'd produce of her happier soil.
And now the improving sons of Rome behold
The scenes of Attic elegance unfold,
Admire the fane by sculptur'd Nature graced,
And catch from every glance congenial taste:
The Capitol by conquering Consuls trod
Receives with friendly rite each marble God,
In bend majestic swells the Parian arch
Through which in solemn pomp the Victors march;
Rome with delight the pleasing toil pursues,
And emulates the beauties that she views,
Exults in arts and artists of her own,
Bids the warm canvass breathe, and animates the stone.
Happy had Rome adorn'd by spoils like these
Been satisfied with Grecian Arts to please!
But Asia's subject regions now disclose
The fatal sources of unnumber'd woes.—
Each delegated chief who us'd of yore
To guide the thundering battle's furious roar,
Bind the green laurel round his conquering brow,
And then return contented to the plow,
Now proudly stretches with rapacious hand
O'er plunder'd provinces his harsh command;
Loaded with wealth the stern Proconsuls come,
And eastern splendor dazzles wondering Rome.
Caught with the lustre of the shining ore
The charms of Poverty can please no more,
The ancient fame of frugal heroes dies,
And venal hopes, and venal passions rise;
The honest boast of Democratic pride
Is drown'd in dark Corruption's swelling tide,
And Freedom's awful rights are basely sold
For the vile barter of barbaric gold.
No more Rome's venerable Senate flings
Dismay and terror o'er usurping kings;
No more the injur'd Nations grateful see
Oppression tremble at her just decree;
No more her sword is drawn in Glory's cause
For rights betray'd, or violated laws:
The Tyrant buys impunity for vice,
And every public outrage has it's price:
Avarice can fix a giddy people's choice,
And servile legions arm at Faction's voice.
In vain a few with steady courage stood,
To stem the torrent of the whelming flood,
The selfish passions with insidious force
Of patriot worth had poison'd every source;
Still lawless power uprear'd her hydra head,
And Freedom was no more though Cæsar bled.
Intent the aims of faction to compleat,
Now smoother Cunning seiz'd Ambition's seat.—
A Youth unmov'd by pity or by rage,
As Manhood firm, yet cold as palsied Age,
Hiding in specious guile his cruel views,
The impious scheme with ceaseless toil pursues.
His wiles, the work of ages to destroy,
Severity and ease by turns employ;
Death's stern decrees, or friendship's milder call,
Allure the timid, or the bold appal:
The enchanting Muses, whose delightful art
Can bend the stubborn purpose of the heart,
His voice invokes to charm the attentive mind,
And hide the fetters that inslave mankind.
The Muses hear!—forgetful that their sway
Was first produced in Freedom's happier day
They hear, and mindless of their ancient worth,
Betray the parent power that gave them birth,
Adore the Author of their country's doom,
And seal the fate of Liberty and Rome.
After a dreadful scene of war and woes,
The brazen gates of two-faced Janus close,
The sad effects of civil discord cease,
And all a restless world is wrapp'd in peace.
By Actium's Victory stopp'd the fatal strife,
No more the dire proscription threatens life,
No more the bloody scroll of Death appears,
But Mercy's snowy garb Augustus wears.
The gentler Arts each harsher care beguile,
And Science grows beneath his fostering smile:
Around his throne the laughing Loves resort,
And own the influence of a peaceful court.
Pleasures refin'd that Grecia never knew
Croud to the sight, and bless the raptur'd view:
To the pert quaintness of Socratic wit,
Or the rude jests that lower manners fit,
To feasts where sage disputes the hours employ,
Or the loose revels of licentious joy,
Succeeds that intercourse of sweet delight,
Though gay not vicious, and though free polite,
Their mingled gifts where ease and mirth dispense,
Ease void of roughness, mirth restrain'd by sense:
And lovely Woman, though not taught to know
That public homage later days bestow,
With modest smiles domestic converse graced,
And soften'd by her looks each ruder taste.
Even Freedom though her sacred power was fled
O'er Manners yet a parting radiance shed,
On the warm heart was Virtue's form impress'd,
And dauntless Courage fir'd the warrior's breast.
The generous youth in Mars' gymnastic field
By manly sports his hardy sinews steel'd,
Curb'd the bold steed, the dusty conflict stood,
Or plung'd his glowing limbs in Tiber's flood,
Science a milder charm to Valor gave,
And Empire seem'd to polish, not enslave,
Rome equal Arms, superior Arts could boast,
And hardly deem'd her ancient Glory lost.
But short the light of Pleasure's transient gleam!
Soon Nature starting from the illusive dream
Shrinks back affrighted as her eyes survey
The horrid form of arbitrary sway.—
Monsters who built on vice their dreadful joy,
Proud of their crimes and happy to destroy,
Seiz'd the vast power that Freedom's sons resign'd,
And shook the rod of vengeance o'er mankind;
Life hung alone upon a tyrant's breath,
And each capricious frown awarded death.
Amid the waste of years though haply shine
A Titus, Trajan, or an Antonine,
The short-liv'd interval more strongly shews
The striking contrast of despotic woes.
What force can free the mind that Vice has chain'd,
Or clear the current if the fountain's stain'd?—
No distant regions happier hopes afford
Beneath the empire of a milder lord;
Fear still beholds where'er her eye she flings,
Subjected states, and tributary kings;
And Power o'ertakes the exile as he goes
O'er Libyan deserts, or through Scythian snows.
Condemn'd the endless scenes of blood to see,
While looks are watch'd, and hardly thought is free,
In Rome's sad inmates, now a wretched race,
No more the marks of ancient worth we trace,
In the dull soul, a stupid, lifeless void,
Rous'd by no action, by no cares employ'd,
Each fading Energy of Virtue dies,
As droops the plant beneath inclement skies.
The cohorts from the frontier distant far
In slothful ease forget the toils of war,
Or from their camp with factious arms o'erawe
The weak remains of Freedom and of Law,
O'er Senates with tumultuous force prevail,
And set the Empire of the world to sale.
The Muse no more with native beauty warms
But tricks with art her meretricious charms:
Science in simple form, and semblance chaste,
Offends the alter'd times degenerate taste.
Each social Charity of private life,
The smiling offspring, and the tender wife,
Now cease the scene domestic to endear:
For who can wish a wretched race to rear
Slaves to a cruel tyrant's fickle gust,
Rods of his power, or minions of his lust?—
To the sweet joys that blushing Beauty gave
Succeeds the traffick of the female slave,
Till sated the perverted Fancy roves
To monstrous pleasures, and unseemly loves.
Debarr'd each just pursuit, the restless mind
Seeks in flagitious deeds relief to find,
In sensual cares grows exquisitely nice,
And only seeks variety of vice.
Their stores the tributary realms supply
To glut even Luxury's insatiate eye;
For Italy, while Rome no rival knew,
Ere yet Byzantium's sister empire grew,
Saw on her shores contending nations meet
To lay their various produce at her feet.
Commerce who independent states can draw
To equal compact by her general law,
Who weighs what nature gives and what denies,
While mutual barter mutual want supplies,
Exulting Rome contemn'd, who saw unfurl'd
Her conquering banners o'er a subject world,
And her proud offspring buoy'd by ancient fame,
Not gain by purchase, but by empire claim.
All that the warmer southern climes dispense
Fair to the eye, and grateful to the sense,
Whatever eastern regions can afford
To grace the mansion, or to deck the board,
In endless heaps the imperial seat supplied,
Her pleasure gratified, or sooth'd her pride,
At the full feast to indolence resign'd,
Lie the soft race on purple beds reclin'd,
And o'er the room in many a crimson fold
The arras hangs with ivory rough and gold:
Of massive plate the attentive slaves produce
The meanest vessels of domestic use,
And in rich mists the cooling odors shed
Ambrosial fragrance round the listless head,
Through the wide dome the fumes of incense roll,
And Grecia's purest vintage crowns the bowl.
A nation's wealth their lavish fancies waste
To furnish viands for one great repast;
And Luxury her bloated form so swells
We scarcely credit what th' Historian tells.
To load the table when the Tyrant fed,
Seas have been drain'd, and Hecatombs have bled;
The Euxine mourn'd her shores despoil'd of fish,
And woods unpeopled form'd one costly dish;
Even when the calls of appetite were o'er,
And Nature's loaded powers could act no more,
With brutal skill were shameful means pursu'd,
That blunted hunger's sickly force renew'd,
In the pall'd taste could false desires excite,
And goad the sated sense to fresh delight.
In constant scenes like these enervate grown,
The slaves of Lust and Gluttony alone,
No joy beyond voluptuous ease they deem,
And small exertions cruel hardships seem,
From Indolence, and Vice their pleasures flow,
And Fear's the only active power they know:
Too selfish e'er to think of public care,
Too weak the weight of manly arms to bear,
A Favorite's nod degenerate legions wait,
And servile Eunuchs regulate the state.
Firm discipline is lost by long neglect,
And mercenary hosts the throne protect.
Weaken'd by Constantine's misjudging pride
Whose vain designs the imperial strength divide,
Open and wide the extended frontier lay,
To each barbarian hord an easy prey:
On every side the ruffian bands contend,
By turns invade them, and by turns defend,
Till lur'd by wealth and splendor's tempting prize,
The warlike tribes such coward chiefs despise,
Against the trembling race their swords employ,
And spread destruction round with savage joy,
Pour o'er each region like a wintry flood,
And Rome's diminish'd empire sets in blood.
Of the long sway of twice six hundred years
Stupendous fabrick! scarce a wreck appears,
Save a poor remnant as the ruin falls
Preserv'd to languish in Byzantium's walls.
Now through the extent of Nature's wide domain
Once more the horrid powers of darkness reign,
Again Chaotic ignorance rears her head,
And o'er mankind her sable veil is spread.
What scatter'd arts survive the general doom
Retreat to wither in the cloister's gloom;
And if by chance from thence some sickly beam
Shoots faintly forth a transitory gleam,
It serves but like the meteor's lurid light
To add new horror to the shades of night.
Alfred. Book Vi.
ARGUMENT. Consequences of the Battle of Eddington.—The Danes blockaded on Ashdown.—Circumstances attending the Surrender and Conversion of Guthrum, Chief of the Danes.—Second Prophecy of the future Fortune of Alfred, and of the British Islands.— Homage from the united Army to Alfred.—Conclusion.
Soon as the Morn, in rosy mantle dight,
Spread o'er the dewy hills her orient light,
The victor monarch ranged his warrior train,
In martial order on the embattled plain;
Ready to front again the storm of fight,
Or urge the advantage, and pursue the flight;
But not the horizon's ample range could show
A trace, a vestige, of the vanquish'd foe.
Now, from the exulting host, in triumph peal'd,
The shouts of conquest shake the echoing field;
While, to the sheltering convent's hallow'd walls,
A softer voice the laurel'd hero calls;
Where, from the bloody scene of fight removed,
Trembling, 'mid hope and fear for all she loved,
Elsitha, prostrate on the earth, implored
Blessings on Albion's arms, and Albion's lord.
Sweet were the warrior's feelings, when he press'd
His lovely consort to his beating breast;
Sweet too, Elsitha, thine—with conquest crown'd,
To see the mighty chief, in arms renown'd,
Though loud the chearing shouts of conquest rise,
And war's triumphant clangor rends the skies,
Forego the scenes of public joy awhile,
To share the bliss of Love's domestic smile.
Yet such, alas! of human joy the state,
Some grief on Fortune's brightest hours must wait;
Amid the victor laurel's greenest wreath,
Twines the funereal bough of pain and death.
Elsitha's eye, among the conquering train,
Seeks many a friend, and near ally, in vain.
Leofric, her brother's heir, whose ardent breast
Her influence, mild and bland, had oft repress'd;
Would Indignation's angry frown reprove,
Or warn him from the dangerous smiles of Love;
Leofric, who, when the dawn awoke her fears,
Dried, with consoling voice, her gushing tears,
Mangled, and lifeless, from the combat borne,
Refutes, at eve, the promised hope of morn.
And, as her heart the painful image draws,
Of youthful Donald bleeding in her cause,
The royal warrior, beautiful and brave,
A timeless victim of the silent grave,
O'er her swoll'n breast a softer sorrow steals,
Her heart a warmer sense of pity feels,
While tears, as pure as seraph eyes might shed,
Flow o'er his memory, and embalm him dead.
Even Alfred, when his firmer looks survey
The field of fate, in morning's sober ray,
See Victory's guerdon, though with safety fraught,
By blood of kindred heroes dearly bought.
Though myriads saved from slavery and death,
Their spirits waft to Heaven with grateful breath:
Yet chiefs of noble race, and nobler worth,
Glory and grace of Albion's parent earth,
Extended pale and lifeless in his sight,
Check the tumultuous tide of full delight;
And as the hymns of praise ascend the air,
His bosom bows in penitence and prayer,
O'er the red sword Contrition's sorrows flow,
Though Freedom steel'd its edge, and Justice sped the blow.
But when he views, along the tented field,
With trailing banner, and inverted shield,
Young Donald, borne by Scotia's weeping bands,
In deeper woe the generous hero stands.
'O, early lost,' with faultering voice he cried,
'In the fresh bloom of youth and glory's pride;
Dear, gallant friend! while memory here remains,
While flows the tide of life through Alfred's veins,
Ne'er shall thy virtues from this breast depart,
Ne'er Donald's worth be blotted from this heart.—
Yet the stern despot of the silent tomb,
Who spreads o'er youth and age an equal doom,
Shall here no empire boast,—his ruthless dart
That pierced, with cruel point, thy manly heart,
Snatch'd from his iron grasp, by hovering Fame,
Graves, in eternal characters, thy name.
All who the radiance of thy morn have seen,
Shall augur what thy noon-tide ray had been,
If Fate's decree had given thy rising sun
Its full career of glory to have run;
But oft are Valour's fires, that early blaze,
Quench'd in the crimson cloud their ardours raise.—
'Ah, wretched Gregor! how can words relate,
To thy declining age, thy Donald's fate?
For while of such a son the untimely doom
Drags thy gray hairs in sorrow to the tomb,
Each tale of praise, that tries to soothe thy care,
But wounds thy heart, and plants new horrors there.—
On me, on England's cause, the curse shall fall,
On me the wretched sire shall frantic call;
Who from his arms his soul's last solace led,
On distant plains to mingle with the dead.
Then O, my valiant friends, whose ears attest
Of Donald's dying voice the sad bequest,
With yours my dearest care shall be combined
To smooth the tempests of your monarch's mind;
With you protect, from War's, from Faction's rage,
The feeble remnant of his waning age.
As round our isle the azure billow roars,
From all the world dividing Britain's shores,
Within its fence be Britain's nations join'd
A world themselves, yet friends of human-kind.'
He ceased,—the words applauding Scotia hails,
And low the spear in filial homage vails,
Homage to Alfred, and to England's train,
Eternal friendship vows, and equal reign,
While swells in shouts of transport to the wind,
'Never shall man divide, whom Heaven has join'd!'
And now the light-arm'd foot, and agile horse,
Whose speed pursued the invader's flying force,
Returning from the chase, to Alfred show
The distant refuge of the scatter'd foe.
Through woods and heaths they urge the swift career,
Pale Terror hanging on their trembling rear;
Nor thought of rest, nor hope of safety find,
And hear the victor's shouts in every wind,
Till distant Ashdown's verdant height they scale,
Tremendous frowning o'er Berochia's vale,
On the proud summit of whose rampired steep
Hangs the strong mound, o'er trenches broad and deep;
Where erst her wing Rome's towering eagle spread,
In haughty triumph o'er the Briton's head.
The Monarch hears, and bids his troops prepare
Their flight to follow, and renew the war,
Resolved to sweep from Albion's rescued coast,
The last remains of Scandinavia's host.
'To-day in peace the social hours employ,
In moderate triumph, and in temperate joy:
Let the skill'd Leech the wounded warrior tend,
The generous soldier mourn his parted friend;
Let holy priests, with orison sincere,
Chant the sad requiem o'er the hero's bier;
But when the morrow's dawn first gilds the plain,
Let war's stern duties reassume their reign;
Beneath its banners, let each different band,
Prompt to obey, in silent order stand,
The trumpet's signal waiting, to pursue
The distant squadrons, and the fight renew.'
The chiefs fulfil their king's behest,—the day
In joy, by grief attemper'd, wears away.
For Valour mourns, mid Conquest's chearful cries,
Of friendship, and of blood, the sever'd ties.
But sheath'd in radiant arms, by morn's first light,
The ardent warriors claim the promised fight.
The clarion blows—silent the steady throng
In close compacted order move along;
Each rank, each file, prepared with martial care,
Instant to form the threatening front of war,
Should, from the hollow vale, or mountain's crest,
The ambush'd foe their toilsome march molest.
Twice dewy morn unveil'd her eyelids gray,
Twice blush'd the dappled west with setting day,
While onward still the unwearied victors pass'd,
Till Ashdown's verdant summits rose at last.
The scene of former fame as Alfred hails,
Omen of hope in every breast prevails.
There, on the summit of the embattled brow,
In eve's red beam, the Danish banners glow;
For Guthrum, gathering courage from despair,
The relics of the war collected there.
Close round the camp his host the Briton draws,
And with his mail-clad foot the fortress awes.
While a selected troop, by Edgar led,
Their wakeful guard wide o'er the champaign spread,
Scouring, with rapid steeds, the extended lawn,
In distant circle, till the approach of dawn.
Now sinks of twilight dim the last faint gleam,
And Hesper yields to Luna's brighter beam.
For with full orb the effulgent Queen of Night
Shed, through a cloudless sky, her silver light.—
O'er the broad downs her rays their lustre throw,—
A flood of radiance gilds the vale below.
There the high trees, in splendour keen array'd,
Cast every deep recess in darker shade;
Their leafy summits waving to the sight,
Seem a vast flood of undulating light.—
When, issuing from the camp, a warlike train,
Their bright arms glittering, speed across the plain.
The alarm is instant given,—the Saxon horse
Close on their passage, and oppose their course.
Hemm'd and surrounded by a mightier host,
Useless is flight, and hope from combat lost.
Urging their swift career, with rested lance,
As on each side the circling troops advance,
A voice exclaims, 'Ye English chiefs, forbear!—
Those who nor fight, nor fly, in pity spare.
From yon fenced camp, where morning's rising ray
Shall scenes of carnage and of death display,
This youth, from Guthrum sprung, whose arms nor feel
Valour's firm nerve, nor grasp the warrior's steel,
His royal sire, beneath my guidance, sends
To seek protection from his distant friends.
Your vigilance has marr'd his vain design,
To you, ourselves, our weapons, we resign,
If we must fall, opposed in arms who stood,
Stain not your swords with unoffending blood.'
'Well may the race, in Murder's livery dyed,
Such fate expect,' the gallant Edgar cried.—
'Though mid the thunder of the battle's storm,
Where Horror stalks abroad in ghastly form,
The victor's falchion, with vindictive blow,
May strike a flying, or a yielding foe,
Yet cool, in peaceful parle, the English sword
An unresisting bosom never gored;
Ne'er have our warriors wreak'd their impious rage
On woman, helpless infancy, or age;
To Alfred's tent, devoid of terror, go,
Who in a suppliant, ne'er beholds a foe.'
Straight to the circling camp which Albion's race,
Round Denmark's steep and guarded fortress, trace,
Brave Edgar bids his bands their captives bring,
The royal youth presenting to the king:
Trembling before the monarch's feet he kneels,
Who all the man, and all the parent feels.
'Dismiss thy fears,' with voice benign he said,
His hand extending to the youth dismay'd;
'That mercy which I trembling ask of Heaven,
To mortal suffering ever shall be given.
Such pity as, I trust, my child would know,
From the brave bosom of a generous foe;
Such, bless'd by Providence, my conquering sword
Shall, to the offspring of my foe, afford.
Cursed be the coward rage that sees offence,
Howe'er derived, in weeping innocence!—
Let every doubt, and every terror end,
And in your father's foe, embrace a friend.'
Contending passions struggling in the breast,
Low sinks the youth, by fear and hope depress'd.
Edgar, as prompt to succour and to spare,
As the dread front of bleeding war to dare,
Caught the faint stripling ere he reach'd the ground,
And from his head the shining helm unbound.
Though on the lips was Death's pale ensign spread,
Though from the cheek the blooming rose was fled,
Though on the liquid radiance of the eyes,
The sable lash a silken curtain lies,
Yet o'er the brows, which, with the forehead, show
Like jet encircled in a bed of snow,
Flows in loose ringlets to the fresh'ning air
The soft redundance of the ambrosial hair,
And charms, of more than mortal grace, betray'd
The form and features of a beauteous maid.
Soon as that form struck Edgar's starting eyes,
'My Emma here?' the youth enraptured cries:
'And do these looks once more her beauties trace?
These arms now clasp her in their fond embrace?—
Look up, my love, and with thy fragrant breath
My bosom free from anguish worse than death.'
Waked by the well-known voice, her eye unseal'd,
Through the dark lid returning life reveal'd,
Again their beams reviving pleasure speak,
Again the tint of health illumes her cheek,
And, leaning on young Edgar's raptured breast,
A silent tear her blushing love confess'd.
'Dear beauteous maid,' he cried, 'from me receive
Each tender care that love, that truth can give:
To thee their thanks shall England's chieftains bring,
And bless the charms that rescued England's king.
Love, love of thee, thy faithful Edgar gave
To Guthrum's power a voluntary slave.
Love form'd the spell that drew me to remain
Mid the rude sons of Riot's desperate reign,
Where one soft glance from lovely Emma's eye,
O'erpaid the galling pangs of slavery.
Hence 'twas my hap—to Heaven's protecting power
May grateful Albion consecrate the hour!—
To warn my sovereign, with prophetic breath,
From the abode of danger and of death.
Hence, too, my voice his faithful followers drew
To save Elsitha from a ruffian crew,
Of whose dire cruelty the mildest doom
Is the swift mercy of an instant tomb.'
'Bless'd be thy aid! the lovely cause be bless'd!
For ever partner of Elsitha's breast.—
'Mine, mine,' the royal matron cries, 'the care
To soothe the sorrows of the weeping fair,
From me the Danish maid shall ever prove
At once a parent's and a sister's love.'
Sweet tears of joy now fill the virgin's eye,
Her gentle bosom breathes the grateful sigh,
While a kind glance her looks on Edgar stole
Spoke the soft language of her inmost soul.
Soon the report to Guthrum rumour brings,
For evil tidings fly on eagle wings,
That, by the radiance of the moon betray'd,
The hostile camp detain'd the captive maid.
A herald to the English king he sent
To ask safe conduct to the royal tent.—
The solemn pledge of safety given, he sought
The British host, with splendid ransome fraught;
Where, as along the martial files he pass'd,
Each soldier's eye a glance of triumph cast,
To view the tyrant of the wasted land,
Sad, and unarm'd, an humble suppliant stand.
Yet still was grief by rage indignant drown'd,
Still on his rugged brow defiance frown'd.—
But when the chief his blushing daughter saw
Respect from all, and kind attention draw;
Saw his benignant foes employ their care,
To soothe each terror of the anxious fair,
A kindly beam of fond affection stole,
Unfelt before, across his stubborn soul.
Struggling, he scarce restrain'd the swelling sigh,
Scarce check'd the tear that trembled in his eye;
The stifled pang his faltering voice suppress'd,
He show'd the gold, and silence told the rest.
'Think not,' the Monarch cried, 'our mercy sold;
The mercenary price of proffer'd gold;
Treasures, by plunder gain'd, the lawless spoil
Of England's ruin'd towns, and wasted soil;—
Can these the indignant owners' vengeance bribe,
Panting to force them from your vanquish'd tribe?
Soon as the orient beams of morn are shed
Shall, o'er your camp, war's furious storm be sped.
Nor think yon feeble mounds your heads can shield,
When kindling fury calls us to the field;
When wrongs beyond the strength of man to bear,
Harden each heart, and sharpen every spear.
Look forth on yonder field, and trembling see
Superior numbers, fired by victory.
Numbers, increasing still with every hour,
Croud from the regions round, and swell our power;
Determined each to make your slaughter'd host
A dreadful landmark on the English coast,
And paint Invasion's image on your shore,
In the dire blazonry of Danish gore.
Mistake me not—we do not wish to gain
By threats, a prize our swords must soon obtain.
But anxious to withhold the fatal blow,
To spare a vanquish'd, though a cruel, foe.
Pitying I view the horrors that await,
Your fortress forced, and mercy ask'd too late;
When, by retentive sway no longer bound,
The insatiate fiends of havoc stalk around.
'In safety to your camp return, and there
Weigh well your state in council,—and prepare
Once more the dread award of war to try,
Or trust a generous victor's clemency.—
For this sweet maid, whom Fortune's changeful hour
Has given a captive to my happier power,
Whether you yield to Concord's gentler charms,
Or dare the stern arbitrement of arms,
I pledge my faith her beauties to restore,
Free, and unransomed, to her native shore;
Or, if she fear o'er ocean's wave to roam,
I am her parent, and my realm her home.'
'Enough! enough!' the Danish chief replies,
The bursting shower now gushing from his eyes;
'Firm 'gainst your conquering numbers had I stood,
And, lost to hope, bought glory with my blood,
Smiling elate in death, while round me rose
A dreadful monument of bleeding foes;
But mercy, pure as thine, O, England's lord!
Subdues the stubborn breast that scorns thy sword.
'Go to my camp, declare the conflict o'er,
That Alfred sways, and we resist no more;
Tell them, the sanguine toils of battle cease,—
Here I remain, a hostage of the peace.'
The Danes, with doubting eye and sullen breast,
Receive, in silence deep, their king's behest,
Yet unresolved, or at his will to yield,
Or try again the fortune of the field.
But when the morn's returning light display'd,
Far as the eye the spacious scene survey'd,
Gleams of refulgent arms on every side,
And myriads crowding still to swell the tide,
Hope from resistance sunk,—and bending low
Their banners, trail'd in dust, submission show,
Slow issuing on the plain, the yielding band,
By their piled arms, in anxious silence stand.
To whom the victor thus:—'Dismiss your fear,
Nor vengeance shall ye feel, nor insult hear;
The galling taunts a captive's ear that brave,
Tarnish the brightest trophies valour gave.
To those who wish from Albion's realms to fly,
Who pant for Scandinavia's bleaker sky,
My friendly barks shall yield free conduct o'er,
Shall land in safety on their native shore;
But all who here have ties congenial form'd,
Whose bosoms Albion's milder scenes have charm'd,
Beneath our sway protected may remain,
May freely cultivate the wasted plain;
For much, alas! of our unhappy soil,
Ravaged by war, demands the labourer's toil;
So by your care shall plenty be restored,
Your ploughs repair the ruin of your sword.
Though your remorseless priests, the conflict o'er,
Their bloody idols sate with human gore,
Our holy faith, with lenient precept, shows
The light of pity to repentant foes.—
Demons of Hell grasp Persecution's rod,
Mercy's the darling attribute of God.'
First ran a murmur through the attentive crowd,
Then shouts of joy their glad assent avow'd.
A few, by early ties to Denmark bound,
Cross'd the blue ocean to their natal ground;
But most, from infancy inured to roam,
War their employment, and a camp their home,
Unknown the wish, which turns with fond delight,
To woods and fields that charm'd the infant sight,
While barren moors, in memory's tablet drawn,
Eclipse of cultured care the greenest lawn,
In fertile England fix, nor wish to try
A harsher region, or a ruder sky,
Her laws adopting, happy to obey
The mild decrees of Alfred's parent sway;
Abjure the Pagan lore, whose fiend-like breath
Taught horrid rites of cruelty and death,
For that pure faith, with angel meekness fraught,
To unresisting foes which kindness taught.
From the brave hand his conquest that achieved
The holy cross the Danish chief received,
Wash'd, by the sacred lymph, from sin's foul ban,
No longer Guthrum now, but Athelstan.
Circling a mount, high rising from the plain,
The honour'd tomb of ancient heroes slain,
The minstrel train around, in choral lays
The exulting peal of peace and triumph raise,
While loud the thrilling harp's melodious wire
Vibrates responsive to the vocal choir.
When, issuing from the rest, with awful gait,
Slow moves a sacred troop, in solemn state,
A snowy garb each form majestic wears,
Each on his arm a golden viol bears.
Alfred with wonder, mid the hallow'd band
Conspicuous, sees Cornubia's Druid stand;
Him who, 'mid Athelney's surrounding shade,
Of distant times the glorious scenes display'd;
On the green summit of the grassy mound
Aloft he stands, and views the region round.
Again his heart mysterious strains inspire,
Again his accents breathe prophetic fire,
Which bursting boldly from his struggling breast,
In notes like these the attentive king address'd.
'Alfred, lo! now confirm'd my mystic strain,
Conquest her ensigns waves o'er Albion's reign;
Crown'd with success thy pious efforts see,
Thy foes are vanquish'd, and thy people free.
Much yet for thee remains;—in ether blue
Where yon bold heights melt from the aching view,
Beneath their base, among the flowery meads,
Her silver current gentle Isis leads.
There, to the Muse, must thy protective power
The solemn shade extend, and rear the tower.
Amid the warrior-laurel's blood-stain'd leaves,
Behold her brighter laurel Science weaves.
Lo! Rhedecyna's princely domes arise,
And shoot their thousand turrets to the skies.
There shall Religion light her holy flame,
And moral Wisdom glow at Virtue's name;
With desultory step shall Study rove,
In rapt attention, through each twilight grove.
There all that lies in volumes famed of old,
All that inquiring ages can unfold,
Whatever toil, or genius, can impart,
To charm, inform, and purify the heart,
Sought, and combined, by Education's hand,
Shall spread instruction round the illumined land.
'There, as from war relieved, thy bosom woos,
In Science' awful shade, the moral Muse,
The hallow'd form of Themis shall arise,
Her ample volume opening to thine eyes.
There shalt thou read the sacred code, whose zeal,
On private happiness, rears public weal.
In vain their guard constituent powers may draw,
And public Freedom's bold invader awe,
If fraud oppressive, or litigious strife,
Invade the humbler walks of private life;
Too oft the jealous patriot's general plan
Protects the state, regardless of the man,
While rule on rule that laws coercive frame,
Leave individual freedom but a name;
As the rich arms that blazon'd knighthood dress,
Protect the life, but every limb oppress.
Small is the woe to human life that springs
From tyrant factions, or from tyrant kings,
Compared with what it feels from legal pride,
From statutes rashly framed, or ill applied.
One legislator England's sons shall see,
From aught of pride, and aught of error free;
One code behold a patriot mind employ,
To shield from fraud and force domestic joy.
Though through the creviced wall, and shatter'd pane,
Sings the chill blast, or drives the drizzly rain,
The cot, more guarded than the embattled tower,
Stands a firm fortress 'gainst despotic power.
The poorest hind, in independance strong,
Is free from dread, if innocent of wrong,
Firm o'er his roof while holy Freedom rears
That sacred shield, the judgment of his peers.
'Let the stern despot of coercive law,
With racks and wheels, the wretched culprit awe,
Bid torturing flames and axes seal his doom,
Or plunge him living in the dungeon's tomb;
Thine be the glorious privilege to spare
The scourge of Justice, by preventive care.
The friendly decade, link'd in social ties,
Shall check the guilty scyon ere it rise,
The mild reproof shall weaken Passion's flame,
And kindling vice be quench'd by virtuous shame,
While mutual safety binds the blameless throng,
Each man responsive for his neighbour's wrong.
'As from the scanty rill, mid sheltering reeds
That steals, unnoticed, through the irriguous meads,
Swells the full stream Augusta's walls that laves,
Proud Commerce brooding o'er its sea-broad waves.
From the small acorn's orb, as, nursed by years,
Aloft the oak its giant branches rears,
And wide o'er wat'ry regions learns to roam,
Wherever tempests blow, and billows foam;
So, boldly rising from this humble base,
The simple canon of an artless race,
A fabric stands, the wonder of the sage,
The guard and glory of a polish'd age.
Not to thy native coasts confined alone,—
Borne by thy sons to Earth's remotest zone,
Where, in the burning east, the lamp of day
Chears the mild Bramin with its orient ray,
Where its declining radiance warms a clime
Yet wrapp'd from notice in the womb of time;
Mid boundless tracts, beneath the rigid poles,
Where scarce the foliage bursts, the current rolls,
Where the wild savage treads the dreary coasts,
Rude as their cliffs, and sullen as their frosts;
Or where, embosomed in the southern tide,
Bloom isles and continents yet undescried,
By British arms, and British virtues borne,
Shall arts of cultured life the waste adorn;
The patriot dictates of an Alfred's mind
Spread peace and freedom wide o'er human kind.
'Now learn events, yet unreveal'd that lie
In the dark bosom of futurity.—
As my delighted eyes, in yon firm line,
With friendly folds see Albion's banners join,
I view them, in prophetic vision shewn,
United subjects of a mighty throne;
See Cambria's, Caledonia's, Anglia's name
Blended, and lost in Britain's prouder fame.
And ye, fair Erin's sons, though Ocean's tide
From Britain's shores your kindred shores divide,
That tide shall bear your mingled flags unfurl'd,
A mutual barrier from an envying world;
While the same waves that hostile inroad awe,
The sister isles to closer compact draw,
Waft Friendship's intercourse, and Plenty's stores,
From Shannon's brink, to Humber's distant shores.
Each separate interest, separate right shall cease,
Link'd in eternal amity and peace,
While Concord blesses, with celestial smiles,
The favour'd empire of the British Isles.
'But come, victorious bands! with common toil
Sketch the white courser on the pendent soil.
O'er many a rood the chalky outline drawn
Pourtrays the Saxon ensign on the lawn,
Which, from the extended vale, the curious eye
In times remote, with wonder shall descry—
The lasting monument of victory.
When in revolving age's lapse, once more
We hail the argent steed from Elba's shore,
This in your brave descendants' shields shall shine,
The patriot kings of Othbert's mighty line;
Othbert, of Roman race; who led his train
From Tiber's brink to cold Germania's plain.
This, drawn in silver blazonry, shall grace
The stoutest warriors of Britannia's race;
Mid fiery horrors, yet to war unknown,
Horrors by fiends to future battle shewn;
Mid flames more dreadful than the lightning's glare,
Peals that with louder thunder rend the air
Than Jove's dread bolts, the honour'd badge they bear.
'Oft then, with festal joy, the rustic crew
Shall, the worn outline which you trace, renew;
And, as in yon deep foss and threatening mound,
By which the upland summit now is crown'd,
Then smooth'd by time, by flocks successive trod,
And softly clad in verdure's velvet sod,
With sinewy arm they hurl the massy bar,
Speed the swift race, or wage the sportive war;
Little they reck, though faithful annals tell,
That here Invasion fought, Invasion fell.
'Nor Vinitagia, shall thy humble towers,
Though the dark shade thy lowly walls embowers,
Be shrowded from the Muse's favouring eye,
Or miss the votive strain of melody.
For all who fame in arms, or arts revere,
All to whom Freedom's sacred cause is dear,
All who enjoy a sovereign's temper'd sway,
Which temperate freedom glories to obey,
Shall love, shall venerate the hallow'd earth,
Which gave their first of kings, their Alfred, birth.
'Yet o'er the scene, with dawning splendour bright,
One cloud of sorrow throws funereal night;
Deep in the vale, where yon green summit stands,
Conspicuous rising mid the level lands,
There shall thy son, thy Edward, yield his breath,
And tread the inevitable road of death.—
Restrain thy tears,—for not in youth's fresh bloom
Sinks he, untimely, to the silent tomb.
In lapse of age possessor of thy crown,
Mature in years, in virtue, in renown,
He falls in peace, a people's general groan
His holy passport to a heavenly throne.
'There shall, in Time's remote and distant day,
A voice to Alfred's name devote the lay.
If not like hallow'd poets, who of old
In verse divine of gods and heroes told;
Or those pourtraying truth in fiction's dye,
The fairy bards of Gothic minstrelsy;
Yet while his tongue shall chaunt, in humble strain,
The real glories of an Alfred's reign,
If not by Genius, fired by patriot zeal
For Freedom's favourite seat, for Albion's weal;
For him, though no perennial laurel bloom,
Living to grace his brow, or shade his tomb;
Yet Truth approving, sure may give one flower,
Faint though its tint, and short its transient hour.
'O, would that bard sublime, whose seraph fire
Shall call forth rapture from the epic wire,
Whose daring Muse shall soar, with eagle flight,
Beyond of Grecian song the proudest height,
Drink, with undazzled look, the etherial beams
From the pure fount whence light immortal streams,
Fill, with the magic of his mighty hand,
That outline his creative fancy plann'd,
Then should a monument eternal rise,
Worthy of Alfred's glory, to the skies.
But scorning earthly deeds, and earthly fame,
His bosom burning with celestial flame,
To sapphire fields aloft he wings his flight,
Lost in the blaze of empyréan light.'
Now on the summit of the upland lawn,
In martial pride, beneath their banners drawn,
Stood the united host.—With thrilling clang
At once a thousand harps symphonious rang,
Proclaiming, while war's brazen clarions cease,
'Pride, pomp, and circumstance, of glorious peace.'
Brave Caledonia bows the conquering sword,
And Cambria's prince owns his superior lord.
All hail the godlike hero, first who reigns
Unrivall'd monarch of Britannia's plains;
While Erin's joyful shouts applauding, join
The strains fraternal of the British line.—
The king, surrounded by his victor bands,
In all the pride of conscious virtue stands;
The sounds of homage that around him roll,
Swell not the placid current of his soul.—
Though by the chiefs of shouting hosts adored,
A conquering nation stooping to his sword;
While, with a stronger arm than shook the field,
His clemency compels their souls to yield:
Though myriads burn his purpose to fulfil,
Their rein his wisdom, and their spur his will;
Though conscious Rectitude, with inward voice,
The impulse seconds, and confirms his choice;
In specious colours painting to his mind,
The power unlimited to bless mankind.
Uncheck'd by human barriers, to impart
Wide, the pure dictates of a patriot heart,
Spread peace and justice o'er a smiling land,
Crush stern Oppression with a giant hand;
Yet in Truth's faithful mirror stands reveal'd,
A charge too vast for mortal man to wield.
Convinced, of public care the unnumber'd dyes
From human rights and human crimes that rise,
No single heart can judge, or arm secure,
However active, and however pure;
That the bright lure of arbitrary sway
May tempt the firmest foot from Virtue's way;
With careful hand around his throne he draws
The sacred bulwark of unbiass'd laws.
Or, if awhile his fervid pulse might beat
With the wild frenzy of Ambition's heat,
Sudden the visionary vapours fly
From the mild lustre of Elsitha's eye.
To the soft charities of social life
He turns, from lust of power, and rage of strife;
Feels the true duty of the royal mind,
His first, his purest bliss, to bless mankind.
Scorning the base degenerate power that craves
A hard-wrung homage, from a horde of slaves,
His generous thoughts to nobler fame aspire,
His bosom glows with more celestial fire;
Happy to form, by Virtue's sovereign sway,
A gallant race of freemen to obey,
Respect by deeds of goodness to impart,
And fix his empire o'er the willing heart;
While patriot worth this godlike mandate taught,
'Free be the Briton's action as his thought.'
Such the true pride of Alfred's royal line,
Such of Britannia's kings the right divine.
As in his mind revolving thus, he stood,
The thoughts congenial of the wise and good,
Along the blue serene, with distant voice,
Again Heaven's thunder consecrates his choice;
While Britain's throne applauding angels saw
Rear'd on the base of Liberty and Law.